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China's agriculture head clarifies land reform policies

Updated: 2013-12-06 14:59
( Xinhua)

BEIJING - China's top agriculture official on Friday called for "comprehensive understanding" of the land reform package outlined last month after various interpretations since the announcement prompted concerns that the policy may go off track.

Among the key reform decision publicized last month by the Communist Party of China Central Committee, issues concerning rural reforms, including allowing the trading of some rural construction land, have invited immediate readings from the public.

"Some of those interpretations are insufficient ... as there are certain restrictions for the policy," said Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu at a press conference.

He further clarified that construction land qualified for trade would not include that for housing, farming and infrastructure purposes as some have suggested, and it will also be subject to certain planning and use restrictions.

"The policy intention is to increase farmers' property earnings, not to increase land supplies for urban construction, nor to draw urban residents or commercial capital to the countryside to buy land," Han stressed.

In China, urban land is owned by the state and rural land is normally under collective ownership. While gradual reforms since the 1980s saw the trading of urban land evolve into a vigorous property market that became a major growth driver, land deals in the countryside remain largely static.

Under China's land regulations, farmers have rights to use, but cannot directly sell or mortgage land. It must first be acquired by a local government before being used for development.

The policy usually results in disputable land takings with meager compensation for farmers, and for migrant workers who want to make a living in the cities, restrictions on land trading mean they have to start afresh on their urban journey.