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China outlines plans to outlaw forced evictions

29 January 10 12:26 GMT

The Chinese government has outlined major changes to the way in which land can be seized for redevelopment.

Under the draft proposals, using violence and coercion to make people move would be banned and owners would be able to appeal against evictions.

Anyone losing land or property would have to be given at least its market value in compensation.

Forced evictions are a key social concern in China and have frequently lead to rioting.

The country has been plagued by the perception that local authorities acquiesce in, and sometimes actively aid, summary land grabs.

China's cabinet said all strong-arm tactics used to force people to leave their properties - including violence and cutting off water or power - would be banned, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Local governments would have to ensure public opinion was heard before going ahead with development.

In homes deemed to be old or dangerous - a reason often given for demolition - 90% of homeowners would have to give approval before they could be taken down.

The new proposals are open for public comment until mid-February.

Violence

All land in China is effectively controlled by the state and current laws allow local governments to claim land and confiscate homes for urban development projects.

But critics say the system is open to abuse and that evictees often receive a fraction of the value of their home in compensation.

Such cases have led to several violent clashes between residents and police or private security guards.

Several people have also set themselves on fire to protest against their home being seized.

Hundreds of thousands of people in China have been moved in recent years to make way for major projects including the Three Gorges Dam and the redevelopment of the capital for the 2008 Olympics.

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