Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Put public first when solving land disputes
Global Times | December 22, 2011 00:30
By Wu Gang
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A favorable turn has ended the ongoing standoff in the village of Wukan in Guangdong Province as the provincial government held conciliatory talks with village representatives.

The protests started with a land dispute, then intensified into a petition, and finally escalated into group protests. Such protests are very common in China nowadays. The government's commitment to solving this issue has been praised.

The number of land disputes in China is rising. The process of land requisition is often unfair.

On one hand, both the land owners and users have their reasonable demands. On the other hand, land owners may ask for a price much higher than the market price. It is impossible to find a solution which can satisfy both needs and be applied nationwide.

The Internet has helped intensify land disputes. It turns some specific disputes and problem with grass-roots governmental work into severe political issues. Public opinion usually bolsters individuals seeking maximum benefit, further complicating matters. 

But even so, China's constant land disputes are isolated from one another. They end with people's discontent over various interests, which are not related and turned into a large scale social movement. Overseas voices may claim they are linked, but this is not so.

Under the social condition that democracy and the legal system have not been fully developed here, cases where individuals or certain groups seek their interests by adopting violent means will increase. It will be costly to solve these problems and confrontations that accompany them.

Each local government should take every quarrel from the people seriously and show a responsible attitude towards people's demands.

Putting the public first and helping them fulfill reasonable interests should be the aim of local government officials. This is also the basis for them to deal with excessive demands and the occasional irrational behavior.

China should speed up the process of setting up a judicial authority to deal with interest disputes such as land disputes. Laws and regulations should be improved and implemented decisively.

Discontent among the public comes from their high expectation of land compensations. Many people believe they can get higher compensation by initiating protests or petitions. Only when this wrong belief is rectified, can the environment of land requisition and demolition be improved. 

Now online opinion plays a dominant role in stirring up popular sentiments. They often determine how a conflict will evolve. As a consequence, government officials and social workers should change their working styles in consequence.

It will be a long process when public opinion is tolerant about China's grass-roots problems. It is a test for China's endurance to see these problems through. As long as the government is taking effective measures, people will expect the form of a healthy society patiently.


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