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Rural land reform

Updated: 2013-11-14 07:29
( China Daily)

A relaxation in rural land use was the trailblazer for the country's reform and opening-up in the early 1980s, when a system of contacted responsibility linking remuneration to output spread among farmers. But villagers have been left far behind in the more than three decades of rapid economic growth since then.

Fundamentally transforming the land use system to their benefit has become essential if the government is to realize its goals of common prosperity and national revival.

Rural land reform

A farmer harvests rice in Yongzhou, Hunan Province. [Photo / Bai Yu]

This may explain why the communique from the Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee highlighted that villagers will be granted more access to property rights; public resources will be fairly distributed in rural and urban areas; and a unified market will be established for the use of land in both urban and rural areas.

Disputes between rural residents and local governments arising from the requisitioning of land have been a major source of instability in the past decade, as the fact that villagers collectively own rural land has provided the opportunity for unfair or even dirty deals in the trading of rural land and an excuse for local governments to requisition land for whatever purposes they want.

It goes without saying that transformation of the current rural land use system is the only workable approach to allow villagers to access their property rights.

As a matter of fact, it has already become common in some places for villagers to rent out their homes or transfer their rights to rural land for the construction of houses for profit and then use the money to buy homes in urban areas.

Nevertheless, a policy and a system are needed to give legitimacy to this practice and to regulate the market so that the rights and interests of rural residents can be better protected. And of even greater concern, arable land needs to be strictly prohibited from being traded for non-agricultural purposes.

Yet it will not be an easy job to balance the interests of all parties involved in the land reform without establishing a fair and transparent mechanism and implementing a set of reasonably designed rules.

With more down-to-earth efforts to ensure the smooth operation of the land market, the rural land system could again blaze the trail for the country's overall reform.

(China Daily 11/14/2013 page8)