How Local Governments Rig the Land-Use Game
Caixin has a report on how local governments and developers often “trample on” the land rights of villagers and farmers:
Local governments such as Tengchong’s must obtain permission from provincial government land departments to convert forests and farms for construction projects on plots under about 40 hectares. But these plot limits are frequently violated, leading to the kind of so-called “land hoarding” typical across China.
Often from a local perspective, land hoarding benefits a community’s economy. Century Golden in Tengchong and similar commercial real estate developers nationwide are considered strong pillars for local economies.
A real estate agent in Chengdu said proposed projects in his area are often introduced to local officials with the argument that they will “attract outside investment.” And by labeling conversion projects “land consolidations,” local governments sign development contracts with clear consciences.
But from the central government’s perspective, local government support is illicit if the land earmarked for developers was originally obtained through underhanded expropriation or leasing arrangements.