Archive for ‘land transfer’


China Wants Its People in the Cities – Reuters


Thirty-five years ago, when paramount leader Deng Xiaoping launched gaige kaifang, or “reform and opening,” China was a much more agricultural country, with less than a fifth of its people living in cities. Since then hundreds of millions of rural residents have left the countryside, many seeking jobs in the export-oriented factories and construction sites that Deng’s policy promoted.

Commercial and residential buildings stand in the Luohu district of Shenzhen, China, on Dec. 18, 2013 In 1978 there were no Chinese cities with more than 10 million people and only two with 5 million to 10 million; by 2010, six cities had more than 10 million and 10 had from 5 million to 10 million. By the following year, a majority of Chinese were living in urban areas for the first time in the country’s history.

Now urbanization has been designated a national priority and is expected to occur even more rapidly. On March 16, Premier Li Keqiang’s State Council and the central committee of the Communist Party released the “National New-type Urbanization Plan (2014-2020),” which sets clear targets: By 2020 the country will have 60 percent of its people living in cities, up from 53.7 percent now.

What’s the ultimate aim of creating a much more urban country? Simply put, all those new, more free-spending urbanites are expected to help drive a more vibrant economy, helping wean China off its present reliance on unsustainable investment-heavy growth. “Domestic demand is the fundamental impetus for China’s development, and the greatest potential for expanding domestic demand lies in urbanization,” the plan says.

To get there, China’s policymakers know they have to loosen the restrictive hukou, the household registration policy that today keeps many Chinese migrants second-class urban residents. China will ensure that the proportion of those who live in the cities with full urban hukou, which provides better access to education, health care, and pensions, will rise from last year’s level of 35.7 percent of city dwellers to 45 percent by 2020. That means 100 million rural migrant workers, out of a total 270 million today, will have to be given urban household registration.

To prepare for the new masses, China knows it must vastly expand urban infrastructure. The plan calls for ensuring that expressways and railways link all cities with more than 200,000 people by 2020; high-speed rail is expected to link cities with more than a half million by then. Civil aviation will expand to be available to 90 percent of the population.

Access to affordable housing projects funded by the government is also expected to rise substantially. The target is to provide social housing (roughly analogous to public housing in the U.S.) to 23 percent of the urban populace by 2020; that’s up from an estimated 14.3 percent last year, according to Tao Wang, China economist at UBS Securities (UBS) in Hong Kong. That means providing social housing for an additional 90 million people, amounting to about 30 million units, over the next seven years, Wang writes in a March 18 report.

The urbanization plan appears to face several big challenges. First, the government wants to maintain restrictions on migration to China’s biggest cities, which also happen to be its most popular. Instead, the plan calls for liberalizing migration to small and midsize cities, or those with less than 5 million. Whether migrants will willingly flock to designated smaller cities, rather than the megacities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, is an unanswered question.

Another obstacle to faster urbanization is that the plan doesn’t propose how to reform China’s decades-old land tenure system. Changing the system could allow farmers more freedom to mortgage, rent, or sell their land.

Finally, one of the most daunting problems is figuring out how to pay for implementing the ambitious urbanization targets. The cost of rolling out a much more extensive social welfare network will be substantial (today, most Chinese in the countryside have far lower levels of medical and pension coverage, as well as far inferior schools); building the new urban infrastructure will also be expensive.


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Villagers in SW China share the wealth[1]-

Jianshe village in Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture, Sichuan province, shared about 13.11 million yuan ($2.17 million) in bonuses with the 340 households in the village, on Jan 14, 2013. The village became rich after piloting a land circulation project, which introduced a new farming company and an investment company. One household received 314,000 yuan.

Villagers in SW China share the wealth

via Villagers in SW China share the wealth[1]-

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Is Land Reform Finally Coming to China? – Businessweek

China’s leaders raised a multitude of reforms as priorities at the plenum that closed a week ago. A key one, a change in land ownership so that farmers can more freely rent, sell, and mortgage their land, is hoped to boost China’s still laggard household consumption.

A farmer harvesting rice in Xizhou county, China

“The Party leadership has given its blessing to land reforms that should shift more income to rural households. Change will happen slowly but the result should be a boost to consumer spending,” wrote Mark Williams and Julian Evans-Pritchard, economists at London-based Capital Economics in a Nov. 20 note.

The present system dates back to the early days of the People’s Republic and classifies all rural land as collectively owned. That murky status restricts farmers from selling the land they live on, while local governments are largely free to take it—sometimes forcibly—and convert it to industrial and commercial uses, providing a key source of their income.

Authorities usually sell the seized land for 18 times what they paid the farmers, estimates Li Ping, senior attorney at the Beijing office of Landesa, a Seattle-based nonprofit that focuses on land-rights issues. This contributes to rising social instability, with farmers protesting land grabs, and it keeps the rural population poor, Bloomberg Businessweek reported earlier this year.

It can’t all be labeled rapacious land-grabbing, however. With local governments responsible for 80 percent of spending, including for their citizens’ education, health, and pensions—but getting only about 40 percent of China’s total tax revenues, according to World Bank estimates—the reliance on alternate sources of revenues such as land sales is understandable. According to China’s Ministry of Finance, local governments’ land-sale proceeds totaled 2.67 trillion yuan ($438 billion) last year, equivalent to more than half their total tax revenue, Bloomberg News reported on Sept. 24.

“With farmers and collectives now barred from selling rural land, expropriation of land has been a significant source of revenue for local governments,” wrote the Capital Economics economists. “They rezone it for commercial, industrial or residential use, add some infrastructure and sell it on. Industrial firms are often offered land at a low price as an incentive to set up in an area. Local governments benefit by taxing these firms’ activities.”

via Is Land Reform Finally Coming to China? – Businessweek.


Chinese land reform: A world to turn upside down | The Economist

MORTGAGING a village home is a sensitive issue in China. A nervous local official has warned residents of Gumian, a small farming community set amid hills and paddies in Guangdong province, that they risk leaking state secrets if they talk to a foreign reporter about the new borrowing scheme that lets them make use of the value of their houses. They talk anyway; they are excited by what is going on.

Urban land in China is owned by the state, and in the 1990s the state allowed a flourishing property market to develop in the cities. That went on to become a colossal engine of economic growth. But rural land, though no longer farmed collectively, as it was in Mao’s disastrous “people’s communes”, has stayed under collective ownership overseen by local party bosses. Farmers are not allowed to buy or sell the land they work or the homes they live in. That hobbles the rural economy, and the opportunities of the farmers who have migrated to the cities but live as second-class citizens there.

Hence the importance of experiments like those in Gumian. Cautious and piecemeal, they have been going on for years. Some are ripe for scaling up. Handled correctly, such an expansion could become a centrepiece of Xi Jinping’s rule.

On October 7th Mr Xi said the government was drawing up a “master plan” for not just more reform, but a “profound revolution”. Such talk is part of the preparations for a plenum of the Communist Party’s Central Committee which will begin on November 9th. It is the third such meeting since Mr Xi came to power; because the first two plenums of a party chief’s term are given over largely to housekeeping matters, including party and government appointments, third plenums are the ones to watch.

And Mr Xi is marking this one out as particularly important. In private conversations with Western leaders he has been comparing the event to the third plenum that, in 1978, saw Deng Xiaoping’s emergence as China’s new strongman after the death of Mao two years earlier, and set the stage for the demise of the people’s communes. Indeed “profound revolution” is a deliberate echo of a phrase of Deng’s.

via Chinese land reform: A world to turn upside down | The Economist.


Jairam blames ‘forcible acquisition’ for Naxal problem

The Hindu: “Coming down heavily on PSUs for displacing tribals, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday blamed their actions for growth of Naxalism in many areas and cautioned that the era of “forcible acquisition” was now over.

The Union Rural Development Minister said if the new Land Acquisition Act is implemented properly, it will put an end to “inhumane” displacement of tribals from forests and check Maoist menace. File photo

The Union Rural Development Minister said if the new Land Acquisition Act is implemented properly, it will put an end to “inhumane” displacement of tribals from forests and check Maoist menace.

“The record of public sector (PSUs) in displacements is worse than the record of the private sector. This is a sad truth… that more displacement has been caused by government and public sector projects than private sector projects…particularly in Naxal areas. And this is why Naxalism has grown in these areas,” the Minister said.

Mr. Ramesh slammed National Thermal Power Corporation for allegedly seeking police help for forcibly acquiring land in Keredari block of Jharkhand’s Hazaribagh district, where a villager agitating against land acquisition was shot dead two months ago.

He was addressing Hindi and regional media two days after Parliament passed the path-breaking ‘Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013’.

Criticising NTPC for the alleged forced acquisition, Ramesh said, “Companies must also learn to be sensitive, changing aspirations.”

“NTPC will face a challenge. If there is firing in an NTPC project and people get killed in that firing, they cannot acquire the land…Indian companies still believe that they can use government to forcibly acquire land. That era is gone. You cannot do forcible acquisition,” the Minister said when asked about the reported criticism by a top NTPC official of the new Land Acquisition legislation.

“If this (new) land acquisition law is properly implemented, it will defeat Naxalism,” he said, referring to incidents of “inhumane” displacement of tribals from forests for various public and private sector projects in mineral-rich states like Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh.

The new law will be notified in three months.

Mr. Ramesh said, “Land Acquisition is the root of the Maoist issue. If you have a humane, sensitive and responsible land acquisition policy, lot of your problems relating to Naxalism would go. Tribals will be with you.

“It is a fact that many of the tribals have been displaced and they have not got proper compensation, they have not got rehabilitation and resettlement…particularly in mining of coal and irrigation projects,” he added.

Mr. Ramesh, the architect of the new Land Acquisition Bill, said the 119-year-old Land Acquisition Act, 1894, had a “very important role” in encouraging Maoist activities in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, parts of tribal Maharashtra and tribal Andhra Pradesh.

When asked that 13 laws, including the Indian Railways Act, National Highways Act, Land Acquisition Mines Act and Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition and Development Act, under which bulk of the land acquisition takes place, are exempted from the purview of the Bill, the Minister said, “Within one year, all compensation, all rehabilitation and resettlement…all these Acts will come under the newly enacted legislation.””

via Jairam blames ‘forcible acquisition’ for Naxal problem – The Hindu.

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* China village Shangpu defies officials to demand democracy

SCMP: “Villagers in southern China were locked in a standoff with authorities on Sunday and were demanding democratic polls after a violent clash with thugs linked to a local official over a land transfer.


Just over a week ago, residents of Shangpu in Guangdong province fought with scores of attackers whom they claimed were sent by the village Communist Party chief and a business tycoon after they protested against a land deal.

Now police are blockading the settlement to outsiders while residents refuse to let officials inside, days before the annual meeting of the country’s legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC).

The situation recalls a similar episode in Wukan, also in Guangdong and around 100 kilometres from Shangpu, which made headlines worldwide 15 months ago.

At the main entrance of the village of 3,000 people, 40 police and officials stood guard, barring outside vehicles from entering. Not far away, a cloth banner read: “Strongly request legal, democratic elections.”

Shangpu’s two-storey houses, typical of the region, and low-slung family-run workshops are surrounded by fields awaiting spring planting. But the main street is lined with the wrecks of cars damaged in the clash, with glass and metal littering the ground.”

via China village Shangpu defies officials to demand democracy | South China Morning Post.

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