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Article China: New Urban and Rural Planning Law

(Nov. 2, 2007) The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress adopted a new Law on Urban and Rural Planning on October 28, 2007. When it enters into effect on January 1, 2008, the current 1989 Urban Planning Law will be abolished. "Urban and rural planning" refers to city-town system planning, city planning, town planning, township planning, and village planning. Overall plans for cities and towns (as opposed to detailed plans) are generally to be for a period of 20 years.

In a bid to reduce the spread of projects entailing corrupt practices by officials – in the form of "image projects," "achievement projects," and "jerry-built projects" – the new Law stipulates that 30 days before being sent to higher authorities for approval, an urban or rural development plan must be publicly announced and debates, hearings, and other methods used to solicit expert and public opinion. Once a plan has been lawfully approved, it cannot be changed without going through the prescribed procedures. This provision is reportedly intended to stop local government leaders from arbitrarily altering urban plans approved by their predecessors in power.

The urban and rural planning agencies must timely announce lawfully approved plans, with the exception of those whose content may not be made public as stipulated by laws or administrative regulations. Certain provisions of the law provide for compensation of persons whose lawful rights may be harmed by changes in a plan or withdrawal of a license. (Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo cheng xiang guihua fa, WWW.GOV.CN[Web site of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China], Oct. 28, 2007; Opinion: Curbing Bad Projects, CHINA DAILY, Oct. 31, 2007, available at; China Establishes New Law to Promote Urban-Rural Integration, BRIDGING THE STRAITS, Oct. 31, 2007, available at

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