Rules to end forced demolitions in China


ILLEGAL FORCED demolitions by unscrupulous property developers, often sneaking in under cover of darkness and using hired thugs to beat people out of their homes, are the biggest source of unrest in China.

Now the government has introduced new rules to end the stealing and destruction of homes to make way for new developments. The rules, which came into effect late last week, render illegal the use of violence or threats to force homeowners to leave.

Cutting power or water supplies to drive someone out will also be illegal, the Xinhua news agency reported. The courts will have a much greater role in deciding compensation for property.

Previously, local governments were allowed to enforce demolitions as they saw fit. One of the biggest sources of revenue for local government in China is the selling of land – often to developers who do not adequately compensate existing tenants and who simply drive them out of their homes.

Figures from the country’s top think-tank, the China Academy of Social Sciences, show land disputes account for 65 per cent of rural “mass conflicts”; the problem is highly prevalent in cities too.

Shocking cases of ill-treatment of residents by demolition workers have caused widespread anger.

In October, workers broke into a house scheduled for demolition belong to a 54-year-old man in Shanxi province. The owner, who refused to leave, was pulled from the house and beaten to death.

A month later, Cui Dexi (56), from Mishan city, Heilongjiang province, set himself on fire during a conflict with about 100 local officials, policemen and developers who wanted to demolish his house for a real estate project .

Residents of north China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region say bullets were attached to four notices saying if they did not move out, they would be getting gifts of bullets from developers.