Described by the party as the most significant land reform package in three decades, the measures are intended to ensure that farmers receive compensation for land lost to development, without slowing the breakneck pace of industrial growth. They do so by allowing farmers to directly transfer their land, still technically owned by the state, to developers or other businesses.
But here in the rice-and-corn-growing region of Guangdong province, where tensions are still running high weeks after the protest, farmers say the changes do not address their main grievance: corruption, much of it directed by local party officials far below the radar of the central government in Beijing.
“I don’t think this will give us more protection,” said a farmer in the village of Xianyi, two hours’ drive from Hebu, who gave his surname as Li. “We have no expectations. We just hope the government will not further take away our land, because we live on the land. If it’s sold, we will lose our livelihoods.”