China Premier Vows to Protect Farmers-ALEXA OLESEN

From the Washington Post (link)

Premier Wen Jiabao vowed Tuesday to crack down on seizures of farmland for redevelopment – a source of rising rural anger in China – but stopped short of saying whether the communist government might allow farmers to own land.

Wen also promised that the world’s largest military would never pose a threat to another country and defended a 14.7 percent increase in defense spending as necessary to improve troops’ living conditions.

The country’s rubber-stamp parliament, meanwhile, endorsed a five-year spending plan to close the growing and volatile gap between rich and poor.

Chinese leaders are trying to defuse increasingly violent rural protests over complaints that local officials are seizing land to build shopping malls and factories without fairly compensating farmers.

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