Chinese condemn awards for demolishing homes, destroying tombs

BEIJING: Governments often hand out year-end bonuses to those employees who devise efficient ways to handle problems or meet goals for improving service.

Last year in China local governments gave employees cash awards for demolishing family homes, flattening ancestral tombs and enforcing the nation's ''one child'' policy.

''Land acquisition, house demolition and relocation is China's biggest tool for wealth transfer,'' a news editor Shen Xiaojie wrote on the website Sina Weibo. ''This kind of award is like bandits dividing their spoils.''

Such payments have revealed local priorities as officials rewarded their own men for implementing controversial policies, sometimes with violent methods.

But bonuses distributed last year, which leaked to the public, have been condemned by China's people, who are becoming more vocal in their criticism of the government.

Two of the most criticised awards last year were given to demolition workers who tore down family homes on government requisitioned land in Lin county, in north China's Shanxi province, and tomb flatteners in the city of Zhoukou, in central Henan province. The tomb flatteners cleared more than two million tombs to recover farmland.


On Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese version of Twitter, which is banned in China, many users called the total payment of $US116,000 ($110,000) to ''advanced'' demolition workers in Lin county ''shameful'' and ''ridiculous''.

Most of the protests in China each year are sparked by forced demolitions of homes and evictions of residents, who are often poorly compensated, to secure land sales that form the bulk of local government income.

In the Beijing News, the commentator Hu Yinbin noted the public's doubts about the award.

Officials ''treat people as the opposite side, getting them down counts as their success, and for which they will be rewarded. This kind of thinking will only stimulate more hostile emotions,'' he wrote.

In Henan province, the demolition of ancestral tombs has caused widespread opposition as people believe the policy is shattering tradition and breaking cultural taboos, but the government has insisted it is critical to recover much needed farmland for crop cultivation.

Zhoukou officials received almost $US500,000 last year for tomb levelling in the provincial capital, Zhengzhou.

As suggested by Mr Shen, some Chinese suspect officials intend to sell recovered land to property developers.

On Christmas Day, the spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture in Beijing criticised Henan's strong-arm methods, but the campaign continues.

''Nobody will love a country which digs out your ancestors' tombs,'' the professor Shi Pu of government administration in Zhengzhou warned.