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Back up rural land reform

Updated: 2014-01-23 07:47
( China Daily)

The rural land reform that is to proceed in the years to come will undoubtedly produce great changes in villagers' lives, but whether the reform is carried out in line with central government policy will be key to its success.

According to the first document of 2014, which the Party's Central Committee and the State Council released on Sunday, collectively owned rural land for construction purposes will be allowed to enter the land market and enjoy the same rights and prices as State-owned land.

This, according to leading State Council researchers on rural work, will be very complicated and needs to be carried out on a trial basis before the relevant laws can be amended to facilitate its full implementation nationwide.

The transfer of villagers' rights to use their contracted farmland is another important part of the reform, and will allow villagers to mortgage their land use right to banks. This will certainly make it possible for villagers to benefit from the transfer of their land use rights. However, as Party General Secretary Xi Jinping said, land reform should never destroy rural collective economic organizations, should never reduce the amount of arable land, should never affect agricultural production and never damage the interests of villagers.

Rural land is coveted for construction and conflicts between villagers and local governments have arisen because of land acquisitions. The relevant laws must be amended to make a clear demarcation between rights and interests when rural construction land enters the land market. Effective supervision must also be put in place to make sure that rural collectives get what they are entitled to.

In the transfer of the right to contracted land, tight control must be exerted to make sure that whoever gets the right to use arable land must use it for agricultural purposes. Rural villagers can mortgage their contracted land to banks but they should never use it for other purposes rather than for agricultural production. And neither should the banks.

Land has long been a thorny issue in rural areas. The central authorities' new policy is meant to promote modern agriculture, so production will be carried out on a larger scale with more input of science and technology. The policy is also meant to allow villagers to make better use of land resources for their own benefit.

However, follow-up efforts will be needed if the policy is to bring real benefits to villagers and agriculture.