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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 April 2007, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
China to curb rising grave costs

A woman walks through a cemetery in Nanjing, eastern China (archive picture)
In spring, Chinese families tend to their ancestors' graves
China is planning to implement new rules to curb steep rises in the cost of grave plots in cemeteries as speculators spread their influence.

The authorities say they will require those wanting to buy plots to show death certificates.

The price of land for grave plots is nearly double that of houses in some areas, according to state media.

China faces a farmland shortage so the government encourages cremation. But many people prefer to bury their dead.

The price of a funeral plot now averages 7,800 yuan ($1,000; 500) per square metre in Zhengzhou, the capital of central China's Henan province, up from about 5,000 yuan two years ago, the China Daily newspaper said.

By comparison, houses in the city average about 4,000 yuan per square metre.

"In recent years, the speculative trade of coffin pits has become increasingly unrestrained, resulting in soaring prices and seething public discontent," the newspaper said.

New rules

Currently, speculative sales of grave sites are not banned because of loopholes in the law passed in 1997.

The new rules would include fining cemeteries by up to half 1m yuan for the practice, the Beijing News reported.

The fine will apply to those selling grave plots to a buyer who does not produce a valid death certificate or who sells plots that are too large.

On Thursday, Chinese families will observe Tomb Sweeping Day when they tend to their ancestors' graves and place offerings at the tomb side.




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