Land use rights still big is­sue

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - —THEPAPER.CN

There was a pub­lic out­cry af­ter me­dia re­ports in April that the au­thor­i­ties in Wen­zhou, East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince, in­tended to charge res­i­dents a fee as high as onethird the value of their hous­ing to re­new their cur­rent land use rights when they ex­pired. Re­cently, the Min­istry of Land and Re­sources has an­nounced the res­i­dents will not have to pay an ex­tra fee to ex­tend their land use rights, nor do they need to ap­ply for an ex­ten­sion.

The Prop­erty Law, en­acted 10 years ago, stip­u­lates that land rights for res­i­den­tial use can be “au­to­mat­i­cally re­newed”, but it does not clar­ify whether that in­volves a fee. Law ex­perts who par­tic­i­pated in the draft­ing of the law say that am­bigu­ous word­ing was used be­cause even then there was con­tro­versy over this is­sue.

How­ever, the April dis­pute in Wen­zhou over the re­newal of land use rights for res­i­den­tial hous­ing means that the au­thor­i­ties need to re­solve this is­sue once and for all. A guide­line co-pub­lished by the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China and the State Coun­cil, China’s Cabi­net, in late Novem­ber, ex­plic­itly said that a le­gal ar­range­ment for res­i­den­tial land use rights is be­ing stud­ied to en­sure home­own­ers are con­fi­dent their prop­er­ties en­joy per­ma­nent pro­tec­tion.

So the lat­est Min­istry of Land and Re­sources’ tran­si­tional ar­range­ment for the re­newal of land use rights in Wen­zhou is be­ing viewed by some as of­fer­ing clues to the of­fi­cial ap­proach to this is­sue in the fu­ture.

How­ever, the min­istry’s ar­range­ment is a tran­si­tional one for this par­tic­u­lar in­stance in Wen­zhou. In­sti­tu­tional and le­gal ar­range­ments to re­solve the is­sue of land use rights af­ter they ex­pire still need to be worked out.

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