Members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), attended a plenary meeting of the annual session Monday, called for strict policies and measures to be taken for protecting cultivated land and fundamental interests of farmers, and amending the Law on Land Management as soon as possible.
Liu Minfu, vice chairman the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang, denounced the willful occupation of farmland in the name of setting up development zones, in some areas.
He blamed the wrongdoing by some local officials and the existing criteria to assess the merits of government officials. Leading officials at different levels should be aware of a scientific concept of development, he said.
Yang Xiangbo, an entrepreneur member from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, also proposed to curb the so-call "development zone craze" by improving the existing laws and regulations on land requisition.
China now boasts 500-600 development zones, covering a total of3.55 million hectares, according to official figures. It was impossible to invest such an astronomical sum of funds, Yang said, noting that large tracts of land were left untapped in these so-called development zones. Meanwhile, he added, a lot of farmers have lost their land and become jobless.
Many local governments have cashed in on the requisition of land from farmers, due to the big gap between the compensation paid by government to farmers and prices paid by developers to government for the purchase of the land, according to Yang.
Even more serious is that in a host of cases, corrupt officials and illegal businessmen have pocketed the added value from the trading of land-use rights, said the Hong Kong-based entrepreneur, who used to live in Luhe county, of south China's Guangdong province, and migrated to Hong Kong in the 1980s.
Hong Fuzeng, vice chairman of Jiu San Society, proposed that great efforts be made to increase the output of low-yield farmland by relying on science and technology.
The per-capita average of cropland acreage in China is only less than 0.1 hectares, approximately 45 percent of the world's average, Hong said, noting that only one third of the country's total cultivated land acreage is high-yielding and irrigable.
(Xinhua News Agency March 8, 2004)