China enhances protection of farmers' land

Updated: 2011-11-10 06:23


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BEIJING - China urged local governments to clarify and provide legal certifications for rural land ownership in its latest effort to protect farmers' land rights.

The ownership of all the collectively-owned land in the countryside must be identified and legal certifications should be issued, said Zhu Liuhua, head of the land registration department at the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR), at a press conference here Wednesday.

The land will be registered as owned by the town, village or villager groups, Zhu said, citing the latest circular issued by the MLR and other government agencies that orders acceleration of the registry work.

China proposed in 2010 a plan to identify and register the ownership of all collectively-owned rural land within three years in order to offer legal protection for the land rights of the country's 680 million farmers.

The circular provides relative policy and technical details for the implementation of the plan, Zhu said.

Rural land in China is state-owned or collectively-owned. As the countryside sees more and more land appropriated or transferred during the country's rapid urbanization, the lack of legal proof on rural land ownership has left farmers' interests poorly protected.

The circular prohibits registered ownership for illegally used rural land, such as collectively-owned land illegally rented for non-agricultural construction, and farmers' house sites purchased by urban residents, Zhu said at the press conference.

"The work affects the vital interests of farmers and has a huge and profound impact on the rural economy and society," he told Xinhua in an interview.

China has been striving to crack down on illegal land grabs to ensure sufficient arable land to feed its 1.3 billion people and protect farmers. However, local governments heavily rely on land sales for revenue and have been known to give preferential treatment to property developers.

The MLR uncovered 37,000 cases of illegal land use involving 246,000 mu (16,400 hectares) of land in the first three quarters, up 10.8 percent year-on-year.