China ending forced house demolitions

BEIJING, Jan. 22 (UPI) — China is ending forced demolitions of homes without due process and compensation, the government announced.

The Cabinet issued the rules Friday and they took effect immediately, Xinhua reported.

They aim to balance public interests and individual property rights, the government said.

Violence, coercion or illegally cutting off utilities to force homeowners out will be barred. And land developers are not to be involved in demolition and relocation proceedings. Local authorities or designated non-profit entities will be in charge to avoid conflicts of interest, which the government acknowledged has been an issue.

If compensation terms cannot be settled with homeowners, only a court can approve a demolition. Local governments had been able to order demolitions at will.

In one of several recent violent confrontations, demolition workers broke into a house in Shanxi province in October. The owner, who refused to leave, was pulled from his house and beaten to death.

“By minimizing business interests in the expropriation procedure, the new regulation could effectively reduce the incidents of forced or violent demolitions which, in many cases, were driven by commercial concerns,” said Shen Kui, a law professor at Beijing University.

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