Media Summary: Land Management Continues to Receive Attention in the Chinese Press

March 14, 2005

With the opening of the National People’s Congress session in Beijing, Chinese media have continued to focus on land management issues, suggesting that such issues will remain a priority in government work this year. For a media summary, see below.



  • In his work report to the NPC on March 5, Premier Wen Jiabao reportedly emphasized the problems facing agriculture, rural areas, and farmers and promised to address corruption and power abuses in basic level government institutions. Illegal land seizures are a key issue of concern in the countryside.
  • On March 7, Vice Minister of Land and Resources Li Yuan claimed that China had cut the number of development zones by 70% and the land area slated for development in such zones by 65% last year. He also reported that the central government “cleared up” about 17.5 billion yuan in compensation to farmers that had not been paid.
  • The 21st Century Business Herald reports that at the direction of the State Council, the Ministry of Land and Resources is embarking on the largest national land survey in the history of the PRC. According to Chinese experts, the enormous project is being launched in an effort to assess land resources, integrate China’s land registration and management systems, and re-centralize control over land management to counter local land abuses (see related story here).
  • NPC and CPPCC delegates, complaining about a lack of affordable housing in China’s cities, have called on the government to cool the country’s overheated property market through macroeconomic controls. Some delegates are reportedly advocating a new national tax on “idle” property to increase the amount of housing on the market and in turn, it is hoped, lower housing prices. Nanjing, in cooperation with the MLR, is reportedly experimenting with such idle property fees already.
  • According to a China Daily report, Shanghai authorities have announced that they will pursue criminal charges against developers who use force and intimidation to relocate residents. The report cites Shanghai authorities as acknowledging that 900,000 families, a total of 2.8 million people, have been relocated since the 1990s. Government officials have said that they will try to limit the number to 60,000 this year.

Some of government’s goals and actions appear to be at cross purposes. Cooling the property market and increasing the amount of affordable housing available will require further encroachment on arable land and the seizure of such land from farmers. And while the government promises new efforts to control local land abuses, it is also engaged in a campaign to silence local activists fighting such abuses (see related stories 1, 2, 3).