China to improve land compensation scheme to help stability

Reuters News

12/24/2012 3:19:32 AM - Reuters News

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese officials will this week discuss improving compensation for expropriating farmland, state media said on Monday, in a move to help deal with growing rural anger about forced land seizures.

A draft amendment to the Land Administration Law will remove a previous ceiling for calculating compensation which has been judged to be too low and also ensure money is paid out before land is expropriated, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Compensation will in future include rural residences, crops already planted, a relocation allowance and social security fees, the report added.

"Farmers' protests over land seizures have occurred in villages across the country in recent years, prompting calls for better protection of farmers' property rights," Xinhua said.

It did not say when the new rules would go into effect and provided no other details.

Some academics have pushed for the government to grant farmers greater control over their land, conflict over which is rising, a worry to the stability-obsessed ruling Communist Party.

Chinese farmers do not directly own most of their fields. Instead, most rural land is owned collectively by a village, and farmers get leases that last for decades.

In theory, villagers can collectively decide whether to apply to sell off or develop land. In practice, however, state officials usually decide. And hoping to win investment, revenues and pay-offs, they often override the wishes of farmers.

The number of "mass incidents" of unrest recorded by the government grew from 8,700 in 1993 to about 90,000 in 2010, according to several government-backed studies. Some estimates are higher, and the government has not released official data for recent years.

Conflict over land requisitions accounted for more than 65 percent of rural "mass incidents", the China Economic Times reported this year, citing survey data.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski)