Beijing, China will use three satellites to monitor land use as part of a crackdown on illegal real estate development activities, a local land official has said.

Starting November, Beijing will investigate and prosecute major cases of illegal use of land, especially those that violate government plans or national industrial policies and those that infringe on farmers’ legitimate rights, Beijing News reported Saturday, quoting An Jiasheng, director of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Land and Resources.

Authorities can now avail themselves of satellite remote sensing technologies to discover and prevent the illegal use of land, An told a conference on Friday.

Land use regulations in Beijing have been ignored by unscrupulous profiteers, Beijing News said, quoting the municipal government.

The Chinese central government tightened control over land after the economy grew 10.9 percent in the first half, promising to penalize local officials who fail to stop or investigate land use transgressions.

The Ministry of Land and Resources laid down in a recent circular that local governments must not approve more land for construction in 2007 than they did in 2006.

"The principle is to strengthen macro-economic control and use land resources economically," it said, adding that localities must make use of land "scientifically and rationally" to protect farm land and land for other agricultural purposes.

It urged localities to "act conjointly" with the State Council in implementing macro-economic control policies and prevent runaway fixed-asset investment.

China’s fixed asset investment rose to 7.19 trillion yuan in the first nine months, up 27.3 percent year-on-year.
The growth rate was down 2.5 percentage points on the first half but is still 1.2 percentage points higher than the same period of last year.

To further consolidate macro-economic control, sources with the Ministry’s Planning Department warned local governments rushing through land use approvals in the final three months of the year was strictly forbidden.

In September, senior local leaders Li Xinming and Wang Wenchao, of central China’s Henan Province, were disciplined for illegally authorizing the occupation and use of land.

A survey targeting 16 cities by the Ministry showed that nearly 50 percent of new land under development was acquired illegally last year.