China To Rein In Construction On Farmland

BEIJING (AP) - China's government on Tuesday stepped up controls on land supplies in a new effort to cool off an economic boom and threatened to punish local officials who fail to stop improper sales, a state news agency reported.

The new measures limit conversion of farmland for construction, the Xinhua News Agency said.

Provincial governments will be required to seek Cabinet approval for land conversions on an annual basis, instead of one project at a time, the report said. It didn't say how the change was expected to rein in building, but being allowed to seek approval only once a year could force local governments to slow down such conversions.

In addition, ''the new rules warn local leaders that they will be penalized if they fail to stop or investigate illegal land sale cases in areas under their jurisdiction,'' Xinhua said. It didn't say what penalties violators might face.

The government is trying to rein in a boom in construction and bank lending that drove China's growth rate to 11.3 percent in the second quarter. Officials worry that the boom could ignite inflation or a financial crisis.

Chinese leaders have expressed frustration at the failure of lower-level authorities to enforce building and investment controls for fear of hurting local companies.

Leaders of the northern region of Inner Mongolia were reprimanded last month for building an unauthorized power plant. The punishment was widely publicized in the state press in a warning to other local leaders.

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