Opinion / Opinion Line

Clearer interpretation about land use rights renewal urgent

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-04-25 07:32

Clearer interpretation about land use rights renewal urgent

A sales woman introduces a property program to visitors at a spring real estate exhibition held in Beijing, April 17, 2015. [Photo/IC]

The local government in Wenzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, has asked some residents to pay one-third of the value of their houses to extend their land use rights claiming the existing rights are close to expiring. The residents say the Property Law stipulates that land use rights "automatically renew" after expiration. An editorial on

It has become generally accepted that "land use rights automatically renew" meaning the government may not claim the land and the house owners can continue to own and use their houses.

However, the local government in Wenzhou has simply interpreted the law in their favor, while neither the local legislature nor the judiciary has intervened.

That has undermined people's trust in the rule of law, because as time passes an increasing number of people will face a similar situation, and they too are asking whether the law will be able to defend their interests or whether it will be bent in the interests of local governments.

The dispute continues between the Wenzhou local government and residents, as the government insists on "interpreting" the Property Law in their favor and charging high prices for people to renew their land use rights.

However, the local residents are rather fragile and powerless facing the powerful local government. Therefore, it is time for the National People's Congress, the top legislature, to intervene. To interpret the law is their job, not that of local governments. The NPC or its Standing Committee is responsible for giving an explicit interpretation of the Property Law so as to prevent similar disputes from happening in the future.

The dispute also teaches us the valuable lesson that the articles of a law cannot be vague. The vague specification about land use renewal in the Property Law has resulted in the fierce dispute today and the legislature needs to avoid being vague when drafting laws in the future.

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