n October 2010, thugs hired by a demolition company to destroy a house forcefully entered it and brutally murdered the homeowner. The crime, one of a series of similar violent incidents in recent years, was widely reported and sparked popular outrage. Last week, the State Council published a regulation that would end the power of local governments to order demolition of urban residences and require disputed cases to be decided by courts (report in Chinese).
The change in the law reflects a responsiveness to the public that will be welcomed by many residents, although it remains to be seen whether implementation will be effective. The new regulation is also significant because the public was given an unusual opportunity to comment on it before it was adopted–and because academic law reformers influenced the outcome.
In related news, Caixin has a series of articles regarding local circumvention of land-use laws. Deng Hai and Fu Yanyan report on the construction process of Scenic Garden, a resort-residential complex in Chengdu, Sichuan:
Indeed, local officials bent over backward to obtain and clear land for Scenic Garden for fear they might violate the contract with Evergrande, which mandated fast access to land to meet the project’s construction timetable.
In obtaining land, however, the Dayi government consistently violated central government land-use regulations.
How did they break the rules? One trick involved dividing land tracts.
Dayi held two public auctions for land designated for the Scenic Garden project last year. Evergrande won the February 5 and July 22 auctions with per-mu bids of 290,000 yuan and 340,000 yuan, respectively, for plots in a community called Puyuan.
Each plot was under seven hectares. But they were originally one piece of land too big to legally sell as a single tract. By dividing the tract for separate auctions, the law was successfully circumvented.
Read also “How Local Governments Rig the Land-Use Game.”