According to Beijing Evening News, the Beijing planning and land management commission has announced a multi-channel system for monitoring rural collective land use to prevent illegal construction on land designated for agricultural use. The channels include a telephone hot line, reporting violations to local or higher-level authorities, inspections by land management officials, inspection of satellite imagery, filing petitions, and a network of remote video surveillance. The video system, begun in June this year, reportedly covers 90 percent of Beijing municipality's cultivated land. The system is described as a "watching from heaven, inspections on the ground, online management" clue discovery system.
An explanation of the system posted by the Land Ministry in 2013 said wireless cameras connected to the "Internet of things" will have a surveillance radius of 1.5 km, allowing them to watch 7 square kilometers.
Video surveillance of agricultural fields in Beijing.
In September 2015, a local land management official was interviewed about the rural land video surveillance system but he didn't provide any concrete details about how it would work. The main questions were about how officials planned to protect the privacy of individuals and what other methods were planned for reporting illegal land use.
Maintaining the agricultural land base at 1.8 billion mu (nearly 300 million acres) is one of the objectives set in China's 13th five-year plan for agriculture and the countryside. Local authorities are required to designated permanent agricultural land that cannot be converted to urban uses or roads. Converting such land is lucrative as cities spill out into the countryside. In Beijing, hundreds of villages are being swallowed by new housing estates, industrial parks, and shopping centers.
Beijing authorities also announced three typical cases of illegal land use to hold up as examples. Below are satellite images of each of the three villages where violations occurred.
An illegal building was constructed in Dagantang Village in Tongzhou District, but no details were provided. This village is in a more rural area and appears to be surrounded by farms, but the land appears to be mainly planted in horticultural crops and trees. There is little evidence of grain production around the village--the main purpose of the land protection system is to prevent grain production from falling.