From Yulun Jiandu (link) (translated by CDT):
Land should belong to the farmers. But some officials have become “landlords” after shady maneuverings. They are not only paid salaries by the government but also collect rents from the farmers. The local government of Fujin City of Heilongjiang Province has already become the biggest “landlord” in the area. They keep raising the rent, adding greater miseries to farmers.
IN April of 1988, China’s State Council approved building the Sanjiang Plain of Heilongjiang Province into a national agricultural development zone. About ten months later, a South Korean businessman visited and signed a deal with the Fujin City government to jointly develop a wilderness of 94,000 acres (570,000 mu) at Touxing. There were 3,300 acres of arable land.
It is learned from insiders that, according to a detailed list of land compensations signed by the farm’s General Manager Liu Jiaqiang, on behalf of the Chinese, the total compensation amount for the land taken was 8.08 million renminbi yuan, while the Fujin City government reported 14.63 million yuan. The discrepancy, more than 6.5 million yuan, and where it went are still mystery.
The compensation Erlin villagers received, however, was only 46 yuan/mu (less than $1/acre).
When the Sino-Korean farm joint venture fell apart in 1997, Fujin City government established the Agricultural Development Company, as a “landlord,” to manage the farm.
During the ten years from 1996 to 2006, Erlin villagers have had to pay the Company 700 yuan/hectare a year to farm the land. The state land policy says the farmers should be subsidized, instead of being levied other onerous charges.
This year, the Development Office of Fujin City government decided to raise the land contracting fee from 700 yuan/hectare a year up to 1,950 yuan/hectare a year, prompting many farmers into standoff and even conflicts with fee-collecting officials, who are now nicknamed “Japanese invaders.”
The fee was recently again raised to 2,050 yuan a year. Officials threatened to contract the land to others, if farmers cannot make the payment. A common scene is dozens of fee-collectors descending on the village to find them in a standoff with hundreds of protesting villagers.
Farmers are puzzled whey they had to pay to farm, while the state has abolished agricultural taxes. City officials argue that this is what it is supposed to do in a market-oriented management of government land.
It is the corrupt local officials who rent the land and gained tremendous profits. The villagers offered a list of some of the officials who themselves occupied pieces of land during or after the Sino-Korean farm develoment:
Ge Qixia, former Fujin City deputy party secretary: 1,650 acres;
Guo Fushan, deputy City party secretary in charge of agriculture: 1,650 acres;
Zhao Da, executive deputy mayor, 500 acres;
Chen Qingzhong, director of General Office of City Party Committee: 500 acres;
Guo Jianmin, former Fujin secretary of Party Committee of Politics & Law: 500 acres;
Zhao Jun, deputy director of City Finance Bureau;
(The original story contains maps of illegitimately seized land from farmers and a more detailed list of officials who carved up some land for their own. There are phone numbers for some senior city officials too.)