Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Chinese law news, Qing Ming Festival edition

Today is Qing Ming Festival, or Tomb-Sweeping Day in China, when one pays respect to the dead. And what better way to introduce today's topic, which is minor property rights in grave sites?

"Minor property rights" (小产权) is the term used to describe the rights you get (or think you get) when you "buy" rural, collectively-owned land. I use quotation marks because you can't actually buy collectively-owned land. You can't even buy a long-term use right to it, the way you can buy a 70-year use right to land for residential use in urban China. But villages purport to sell these rights and urbanites purport to buy them, because they're cheaper than the fully lawful and relatively robust rights you get when you buy urban land. And the developments on minor property rights land can be pretty substantial (see the photo below); we're not talking about tarpaper shacks here.

081100 Picture of Minor Property Right Development in Zhengzhou

Now the media is reporting that minor property rights land is being occupied not just by the living, but by the dead - and for the same reasons. It's getting too expensive to die in China, so people have to find cheaper options. Here are some reports:

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/china_law_prof_blog/2014/04/chinese-law-news-qing-ming-festival-edition.html

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