West area tops illegal land deals
Updated: 2012-01-13 07:53
By Wang Huazhong (China Daily)
BEIJING - China's western regions have become the new hotbed for illegal land seizures in 2011, the country's top land administrator said.
A senior official of the Ministry of Land and Resources on Thursday said 344,000 cases of illegal use of land resources were reported in China's western regions in 2011, accounting for 45.7 percent of the country's total.
Only 134,000 such cases were reported in the east and 273,000 in the central area of the country.
Compared to 2010, the number of cases increased by 47.6 percent in the West, against a 21.5 percent drop in the East.
"Illegal use of land is on an obvious increasing trend in the west," said Li Jianqin, head of law enforcement and supervision administration of the ministry.
The main factor contributing to the shift of hotspots is "fast development of the West and short supply of land amid high demand", according to Li.
Analysts said the western development plan and the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) are driving industrial transformation that involves migration of industries, capital and projects from the high-cost East to a resourceful West.
"Against this backdrop, some governments and officials in the West believe they can illegally use land or take more than allowed so long as it is contributing to local economic development," said Dong Liming, a professor in urban and environment study at Peking University and an advisor to the China Land Science Society.
Zhu Lijia, professor from the Chinese Academy of Governance, echoed that the problem was fueled by local government reliance on land leases and the real estate market to boost GDP growth.
"The government of East Coast cities has been taking measures to rein in skyrocketing real estate development. As a result, some developers go to second- and third-tier cities in the west part of the country and tend to bribe officials there to illegally take scarce resources."
"Moreover, lax supervision of land leases and feeble punishment for responsible officials also makes land resources a hotspot for corruption."
According to the ministry's figure, 1,416 people received Party disciplinary punishment and 1,149 people got administrative punishment in 2011 over cases of land resources infringement.
And 140 people were charged for their criminal responsibility.
Besides the trend of increasing cases reported in western China, Li pointed out that the problem of national and provincial projects illegally taking land remains "striking".
"The phenomena of using land before approval or using land simultaneously when applying for approval still exist."