Chinese Land Sales Jumped 70 Percent in 2010

China says land sales jumped 70 percent last year, raising new concerns about social unrest among Chinese who cannot afford to buy a home.

The government says property developers paid roughly $407 billion for land in 2010, up from $240 billion a year earlier. The sharp increase raises expectations China could intensify its efforts to curb rising property prices.

Land and Resources Minister Xu Shaoshi said urban development in China is increasingly dependent on land sales. But he said that has led to "uneven allocation of benefits and social conflicts."

Land disputes in China have occasionally turned deadly, with desperate residents setting themselves on fire as developers have destroyed their homes to make way for new construction.

China has already tightened limits on mortgage lending to discourage investment buying that has pushed prices beyond the reach of many Chinese. It has also introduced trial property taxes in some cities.

Xu said the government would reform its land auction process and make sure there is enough land available this year to build 10 million affordable housing units.

Apartment prices have spiked to record highs in some Chinese cities, with the cost of real estate in Beijing increasing 42 percent last year.