Land Use Reform Tops China Agenda

China's government has announced major changes in property rights for farmers, giving them the ability to 'lease, exchange, or swap' their plots.

"Under the current system, farmers are assigned small plots of land. Under the new policy, the government will establish markets where farmers can 'subcontract, lease, exchange or swap' land-use rights or join cooperatives. Reform advocates say allowing leasing or transfer would enable the creation of larger, more efficient farms that could increase output.

The fate of the reform program has been uncertain for the past week. Analysts had expected an announcement last Sunday after the conclusion of an important annual Communist Party planning session. But the communiqué released after the meeting made no mention of land reform, fueling speculation that opponents may have derailed the plan.

Critics had warned that weakening the existing system of collective village ownership could deprive peasants of the security of having a piece of land and possibly lead to millions of landless farmers. But the existing system has become rife with corruption, as local officials and developers have illegally seized farmland for urban expansion while paying minimal compensation to farmers."

Full Story: China Enacts Major Land-Use Reform
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