Now China’s leaders have quietly announced a new rural revolution, making it easier for farmers to lease or trade their land-use rights. This will transform life for the country’s 700 million farmers. But these changes are not being welcomed by everyone.
“There’s no money without land,” says Liu Jiude, 76. “The changes are bad for us older people.” An elderly man wearing thick spectacles, Liu is perched on a low stool in his front yard, sifting out hulks of soybeans. The older villagers are also grappling with the ideological implications too; some fear a return to the days of exploitative landlords, whose evils were the subject of communist propaganda. Nowadays, it seems big landlords are fine, so long as they raise incomes.
Village Communist Party Secretary Liu Fuyuan dismisses ideological concerns. “Our leaders are rolling out policies to help farmers get rich,” Liu says. “They want to close the gap between the city and the countryside. They want to urbanize the countryside. The small fields will become big fields, and we’ll have rows and rows of houses like in the city.”
In order to support the land reform in the rural area, the Chinese government has also put out policies on the financial sector.