In China, Leaders Turn Focus to Farmers’ Plight

Chinese leaders have turned their attention to the social imbalances that face China’s 730 million farmers. Land reform measures and rural property rights form the core of the discussion. Andrew Batson of Wall Street Journal reports:

Farmland is the core of the problem. The government owns all land in China; farmers are only allowed to have 30-year leases. Technically, that land can’t be sold without government approval, though it is often leased or informally transferred. Confusion over rights to land has increasingly become an issue, as many farmers relocate to cities and look to lease out their land.

“Land reform — not buying and selling, but transferring it or using it as collateral — would make it easier for farmers to raise money,” said Tang Min, deputy secretary-general of the China Development Research Foundation in Beijing.

Chinese scholars have been discussing several possible solutions, such as increasing the term of farmers’ leases, making it easier to exchange and transfer them, or allowing leases to be used as loan collateral. Those measures could help boost food production, an important goal for a leadership that prizes self-reliance.


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