China Daily: Urbanization To Displace Millions of Farmers Annually

March 12, 2005

In a recent editorial, the China Daily notes that urban construction requires between 166,000 and 200,000 hectares of land each year. As a result, between 2.5 and 3 million farmers lose their land to urbanization annually. The editorial lists reform of the land requisition, rural taxation, and rural financial systems as priorities in protecting farmers’ interests. It also calls for higher compensation and better social security for farmers who lose land to construction.

A February 24 AFP article reports that the Ministry of Land and Resources has announced that it will invest one billion U.S. dollars in 2005 to preserve farmland. Central government surveys conducted in early 2004 confirmed that China continues to lose arable land at an alarming rate, a trend of serious concern since Chinese farmers feed about one fifth of the world’s population on about nine percent of its arable land. Public protests and political instability have resulted from the displacement of peasants by construction projects and corruption in the land requisition process. Local governments focused on economic development often flout land requisition rules and have resisted central government efforts to enforce such rules. However, the central government has given local governments a freer hand to ignore legal requirements by restricting media reports on land disputes. (See related stories here and here.)