Law amendment to protect farmers' land rights

Updated: 2012-01-02 11:56


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BEIJING - A new amendment to China's Land Management Law is being drafted to better protect farmers' interests in land expropriations, according to a report from the top legislature's environment and resources panel.

It is urgent to reform and standardize land expropriation practices and transfers of land-use rights over collectively-owned land (in rural areas), as the current version of the law has been proven to be outdated, the report said.

The report was submitted by the Environmental Protection and Resources Conservation Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, to the NPC's Standing Committee on Saturday.

The report came just days after Premier Wen Jiabao's speech at the annual central conference on rural work that opened Tuesday.

Farmers enjoy the legal rights of land contracts, land use and collective income distribution as basic protections, Wen said, adding that "no one is empowered to deprive them of these rights."

Wen also noted that the key to reforms in expropriating collectively-owned land lies in safeguarding farmers' gains from land value increment revenue, and China can "no longer sacrifice its farmers' land property rights to reduce the costs of urbanization and industrialization."

Under China's existing land ownership structure, rural collectives own the land. The collective, often a village committee, distributes land-use rights to households in 30-year "household management" contracts.

Though more and more farmers have benefited from transferring, leasing, or mortgaging land-use rights since 2008, infringements of these rights, illegal land grabs and other regulatory issues have spurred mass protests in recent years.

China's current Land Management Law was first adopted in 1986, and has been modified twice, in 1998 and 2004, respectively.

The report said that the drafting of the new amendment began in April 2011, but it did not reveal an expected deadline for the draft to be completed.