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Amnesty International reports rise of forced evictions in China

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"Potentially, millions of people in the country are at risk of these illegal forced evictions and indeed protests about forced evictions are the single biggest issue of populist discontent in the country," Nicola DuckworthAmnesty's senior director of research, told Reuters.

"So it's a huge issue, it's been going on for many, many years, we feel it's rising in scale now and it's really time to put an end to it."

Land sales by local governments soared as officials scrambled to raise the capital needed to hit ambitious targets for infrastructure building set by Beijing in a 4 trillion yuan economic stimulus plan, launched late in 2008 as the global financial crisis raged.

Frenzied speculative activity inflated a real estate bubble that resulted in local governments racking up debts of 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.7 trillion) by the end of 2010 as they also borrowed to build, compelling them to sell yet more land to pay back loans.

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