Updated Forced Demolition Rules ‘Old Soup in New Bowl’

By Rona Rui, Epoch Times
December 27, 2010 Updated: December 27, 2010

[xtypo_dropcap]A[/xtypo_dropcap]fter a consultation period of nearly one year the State Council, China’s highest policymaking body, on Dec. 15 released an updated version of the regulations governing forced demolitions. While they are made public “for further discussion,” citizens and rights activists interviewed by The Epoch Times already see them as “old soup in a new bowl.”

The regulations, officially titled “Draft Regulation On Expropriation of Houses On State-Owned Land and Compensation,” have been criticized since their initial release in January 2010 for providing corrupt officials legal excuses to rob people of their homes.

While the new updates were supposed to ease these conflicts, they will actually serve to boost the power of local authorities rather than restrict it, activists said.

Forced demolitions and the conflicts they engender have become a widespread problem in China in recent years. Scenes of individuals setting themselves on fire as they stand on the roofs of their houses, protesting the government-backed violence associated with forced demolitions, have regularly been spread online.

A major change proposed in the new regulations says that Party officials now must provide a court-ordered demolition notice. But the Party’s control of the court system made this proposal an easy target for derision.

“It looks like an improvement, but in reality it is the same as before; every Chinese citizen knows the government pays the court's salary,” Chinese Internet writer Shangguan Ruyan told The Epoch Times. “Would you dare to bite the hand that feeds you?”

Shanghai citizen Zhu Donghui made remarks along similar lines: “It looks like the government is following the law, when in actuality the whole of China is enveloped by power over which the legal system has become helpless.”

Zhang Jianping, the executive director of Rights Campaign, an NGO, said that unless land is privately owned, people will continue to have no rights on the issue.

Courts will not deliver a verdict according to law because they are merely vassals of the Communist Party, he said. “It is unquestionable: a demolition by administrative order, or one by court order, they are the same, they are all demolitions enforced by a Mafia.”

Lawyer Jin Guanghong told The Epoch Times: “When the government and the court are all under the Party’s leadership, it is only an internal formality whether the regime or the courts decide a forced demolition.”

Jin also pointed out that previously, forced demolition victims often appealed to the courts, but now even that semblance of appeal will be removed. “The only way out is political reform,” he said. “Separation of powers; power must be supervised and restricted. The legal system must be independent.”

Read the original Chinese article.