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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 07:23 GMT 08:23 UK
China to defuse property unrest
By Louisa Lim
BBC, Beijing

Workers demolish an old residential building in Beijing (archive picture)
Thousands of homes have been demolished to make way for new buildings
The Chinese authorities say they will demolish fewer buildings this year to try to keep a lid on growing unrest over evictions.

Huge swathes of residential housing have been destroyed in recent years as China modernises its cities, sparking widespread discontent from those forced to leave their homes.

Every day, groups of angry residents gather in Beijing to petition the government over the demolition of their homes.

Now, the State Council is backing up some of their complaints.

In a new report, it accuses some local governments of blindly demolishing buildings, giving out too little compensation and abusing their powers to forcibly evict people from their homes.

It admits such moves are influencing social stability, and now, it is moving to try to reduce the number of buildings knocked down.

The scale of the problem is still extremely unclear.

One Geneva-based group estimated that 300,000 people had been evicted in Beijing alone to make way for projects related to the 2008 Olympic Games.

But senior officials dispute that number, arguing that those who have been relocated have ended up in larger homes.

The State Council notice also says that stopping the destruction of older buildings could also help stop the over-investment in new construction, thus playing a part in helping cool down the overheating economy.

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