China approves land reforms to reduce rural-urban income gap
The Chinese Communist Party has approved an economic reform plan that would allow farmers to trade and mortgage their land rights. The package was approved on Sunday at the party's annual conference chaired by Hu Jintao, the president, with up to 500 members of the central and disciplinary committees and other key officals present, state media reported. The move is part of a wider package of reforms aimed at reducing the rural-urban income gap that has expanded during 30 years of capitalist market policies. The reforms call for a doubling of China's per-capital rural income of $591 by 2020, Xinhua news agency said, without giving further details. According to Dang Guoying, a rural scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, farmers will now be able to trade, rent and mortgage their land use rights for profit in a land transaction market. "The move will speed up the country's urbanisation by bringing more farmers to the cities with the big farm contractors promoting modern farming in rural areas," he told the China Daily newspaper.
Parliament approval: Russel Leigh Moses, a Beijing-based academic and China expert , says policies approved by the party are traditionally placed before the National People's Congress, China's parliament, for approval when it holds its annual session next March. "I don't think we will see anything specific until the NPC next year when they start to set out the legal framework and when we will be able to see more of the internal debate over the programme," he said. State media has said that building large-scale industrial farms is seen as key to China's long-held policy of remaining self-sufficient in grain production, and being able to feed its population. Most of China's farm plots are small and held individually at a time when hundreds of millions of farmers are leaving the land to seek better lives in the nation's quickly developing urban centres. According to China's constitution all land is owned by the state, so the reforms under discussion are not expected to result in private ownership of land.