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China pilots expanded property rights for farmers

Updated: Oct 18,2014 6:03 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING -- China will pilot a set of reforms aimed at giving farmers greater property rights to allow them to enjoy more benefits of the country’s urbanization drive.

In an interview with Xinhua on Oct 18, vice-minister of agriculture Chen Xiaohua said the pilot plan, recently approved by the central authorities, will explore diversified forms of collective ownership of rural land to better protect the interests of farmers.

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 robust property market, land in the countryside has remained largely static as farmers generally have the right to use the land, but cannot directly trade or mortgage it.

This scenario has put Chinese farmers in a vulnerable position, and a key reform meeting last year pledged to gradually change the situation.

While implementing the most strict policies to protect arable land, the country will grant farmers rights to possess, use, benefit from and transfer their contracted land, as well as the right to use land ownership as collateral or a guarantee, said a document released after the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee held last November.

As a follow-up to the document, the latest policy specified procedures to allow farmers to transform their collective rights into a shareholding system.

Chen said the key is to accelerate registration and confirmation of land rights. China started a pilot registration program in 2008, and the country aims to roll out the scheme nationwide in 2015.

Meanwhile, China will actively grant farmers the right to possess and benefit from their contracted land, allow them to give up or inherit land use rights under certain conditions, as well as cautiously roll out experiments on the leasing and mortgaging of the rights, according to Chen.

Giving consideration to the differentiated conditions in east, central and west China, authorities will select several counties to pilot the reforms and aim to complete the work by the end of 2017.

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