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December 18, 2009

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Demolition laws set to be replaced

WIDELY disputed house demolition regulations are to be abolished to protect the rights of China's property owners.

Gao Fengtao, vice head of the Legislative Affairs Office of State Council, said a new set of regulations was being drafted which would be "fundamentally different," yesterday's Beijing News reported.

The "Housing Demolition and Relocation Management Regulation" had been described as a breach of the country's constitution and property law by some experts.

The news came after a number of conflicts between property owners and local authorities on disputes over land acquisition and demolition, which had led to violent protests and even cases of people setting themselves on fire.

As most conflicts stem from disputes in compensation, Gao said, the new set of regulations will emphasize more on the compensation for owner of houses waiting for demolition, according to the newspaper.

The main advocate of the draft Shen Kui, a law professor at Peking University, told the Oriental Morning Post that the old regulations should have been abolished when China's Property Law was enacted in 2007.

Shen said the key to solving disputes in house demolition cases was to set up a real estate appraiser organization so that the government could avoid a conflict of interest.

Yet Gao said there were still objections to abolishing the old law.

He said representatives from less-developed provinces feared the new law could damage local economic growth while it protected individual property owners.

Shen hoped the new regulations could soothe recent tension between local authorities and property owners.

A 47-year-old woman, Tang Fuzhen, died after she set herself on fire to protest at demolition crew in Sichuan Province.

Xi Xinzhu in Beijing burnt 10 percent of his skin with gasoline while the demolition crew were breaking into his house last week. Xi is fighting for his life in hospital.

A county in Heilongjiang Province was also reported to have set a three-year plan to demolish all one-storey houses. The massive deconstruction campaign was found to be responsible for other self-immolations.


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