China will put an end to profiteering in tombs by improving funeral management and imposing hefty fines, according to draft regulations publicized Monday by the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council.
"Cemeteries will only be allowed to sell tombs or urns for ashes to customers with death certificates of relatives or friends," the draft regulations state.
Those violating the regulations will face fines of up to three times the illegal gain, the regulations say.
Those who build graveyards without approval face the same penalties.
The regulations also ban the subleasing of tomb land to others.
Non-profit graveyards and urns for ashes built exclusively for villagers in the countryside cannot be made available to people from outside the village. Those violating the regulation will be fined up to 10,000 yuan (1,295 U.S. dollars).
Profiteering has reached dramatic proportions since the current regulations on funeral and interment were proclaimed by the State Council in July 1997, said the Legislative Affairs Office in a notice.
"Some cemeteries have been speculating illegally in tomb plots. This is contrary to the public interest and has sparked widespread protests," the notice reads.
The regulations state that local authorities must give cemetery operators a fixed fee scale for burial plots or urns for ashes.
An austere tomb in a cemetery located on the outskirts of Beijing is now priced at 2,500 yuan (about 320 U.S. dollars) per square meter, almost 14 times more than it was 10 years ago.
Tomb profiteering has been linked to the steeply rising cost of funerals in China. A proper sendoff can cost between 10,000 and 20,000 yuan (2500 dollars) in major cities.
To curb the soaring costs of funerals, the regulations also fix fee levels for funeral homes for services such as body transfer, refrigeration and cremation.
Death is big business in China as 8 million people die every year.
In Beijing and Shanghai, a proper sendoff can cost between 10,000 and 20,000 yuan. In Hebei and Shandong provinces, funerals cost from 5,000 to 10,000 yuan, according to statistics from the China Funeral Association.