Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

Chinese man sets himself on fire in Beijing

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A Chinese man is being treated in hospital after setting himself on fire in the capital, Beijing, to protest against the demolition of his home.

The man, named by local media as Xi Xinzhu, set himself alight when a demolition crew arrived to move him out and start tearing down his home.

Analysts say the incident will add to already intense pressure to reform China's rules on forced eviction.

Last month a woman died after setting herself alight in a similar protest.

Growing anger

Xi Xinzhu suffered burns to 10% of his body, officials told the Chinese Communist Party-controlled People's Daily newspaper.

"We tried everything to raise legal questions about this demolition through normal channels, but nobody would do anything, although there are plainly problems," Xi's brother, Xi Xinqiang, told Reuters news agency.

The protest is just one of a series in a country where land is effectively controlled by the state.

The law currently allows local governments to claim land and confiscate homes for urban development projects - a system which critics say is open to abuse.

Residents often complain that the amount of compensation offered is far below the real value of their homes.

Chinese legal experts have called for major changes, and in a sign that the government may be seeking to ease public anger, officials met nine of them on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

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