National People’s Congress Approves Law on Rural Land Disputes

The Standing Committee of the 11th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislative body, closed its ninth session on Saturday.  The Standing Committee approved several new laws, including one on handling rural land disputes.  From Xinhua:

China’s top legislature concluded its six-day, bimonthly session Saturday, after approving several laws, including one on rural land disputes aiming to ensure rural stability,

President Hu Jintao signed decrees to publish the law on the mediation and arbitration of rural land contract disputes, the revised Law on Statistics and a decision to abolish eight outdated or redundant laws.

[…Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress] said the law on the mediation and arbitration of rural land contract disputes is based on the actual condition of rural areas, giving consideration to the convenience of the broad masses of people, bring into full play the role of mediation and arbitration and specifying measures and procedures that provide a legal basis for settling rural land disputes and ensuring farmers’ rights.

The new law on rural land disputes signals the severity of the political headache caused by farmers protesting illegal or inadequately-compensated seizures of their land.  From The Times of India:

China on Saturday set out to tackle an important cause of political dissent, which is the heart-burning among farmers over forceful acquisition of their lands and poor compensation paid for it. The government admitted that land disputes were a “factor affecting rural harmony and stability”.

Land disputes have resulted in thousands of farmers’ demonstrations challenging the Communist Party’s system of political control in rural areas. The law amendment move shows the central government is sore about the failure of provincial governments to curb misuse of power by local officials in this field, sources said.

Official statistics show that more than 50,000 cases of land dispute took place in 224 cities and counties across the country from 2003 to March 2008.


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