I was greatly distressed to hear that another self-burnt incident against coercive house dismantlement by the local government had happened in Huludao City, not only because one more life was harmed, but also because justice, the soul of our society, was severely damaged, which therefore inevitably indicates that more self-burnt tragedies will happen in the future. I also saw the news that Premier Wen Jiabao had talked with petitioners in State Bureau for Letters and Calls, and said that the state will protect the interest of households whose houses were dismantled by the governments. For this reason, Regulations on the Expropriation of Houses on State-owned Land and Compensation therefore was passed by the State Council, and more regulations on expropriation of collective land will be issued. This seems to give us a mite of comfort.
However, I still feel unsatisfied. The phenomenon of coercive dismantlement has lasted for years, or rather, more than a decade, and becomes increasingly intense in recent years. It is believed that dozens of lives have been lost in the large number of vicious coercive dismantlement incidents exposed after the Tang Fuzhen self-burnt incident in addition to those unexposed ones. The State Council abolished the custody and repatriation system promptly after the case of Sun Zhigang. During the SARS epidemic period, the central government immediately adjusted both the leadership team of Beijing city and that of the Ministry of Health and took the information transparency policy, thus overcoming the SARS crisis in a very short time. Premier Wen Jiabao arrived at the earthquake scene in less than two hours after the Wenchuan earthquake happened. In contrast, in dealing with the threat to people’s lives by coercive dismantlement, isn't the government's reaction too slow? Aren't these measures too inefficient?
In fact, the establishment and amendment of regulations on land expropriation by itself is merely a short-term palliative measure rather than a permanent cure. The root cause of coercive dismantlement phenomenon lies in deviations in our current legal system of land, which stipulates that rural collective land will be expropriated as state-owned land when the land will be constructed as an urban area and that land expropriation compensation is limited to as six to ten times as the average agricultural output value per year. These regulations deprive the rural collectives' status of equal negotiation with land demanders as land owners and weigh down the farmers' bid space, resulting in expansion of local governmental power and creating excuses for them to snatch farmers' land. This system will continue to "kill people" systematically unless it is changed. Therefore, the most fundamental solution is to revise the fundamental system on land, abolish regulations which make rural collective land ownership not to be enforced, impose restrictions on power of governmental agencies, and allow land to be effectively allocated under the condition that land property rights are soundly protected and voluntary transactions are guaranteed.
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