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New Policy Guarantees Farmers' Right
The central Chinese authorities authorized publication Monday of a circular calling attention to the transfer of farmland use rights against the will of farmland contractors.

According to the circular issued by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the transfer of farmland use rights in rural areas mostly follows the logical flow and optimal distribution of major production resources, and therefore is a healthy development.

However, authorities in some townships and villages transfer rights against the will of farmers whose contracts are still in effect, according to the circular.

Due attention must be paid to this practice since it jeopardizes the interests of the farmers, the central government warns.

It is also noted that the transfer of the right to cultivate farmland has to be done in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations and policies issued by the central authorities.

Villages as a collective economic entity have no right to unilaterally terminate farmland contracts signed with farmers, or to apply "majority rules" to impel the farmers to terminate or change their contracts before they reach maturity.

In China, where farmland belongs to the State, farmers signed their first 30 year-long farmland contracts with local authorities in late 1970s, after rural people's communes were abolished.

The reform has resulted in a substantial increase in crop yields for Chinese farmers.

Most of the contracts which expired in the past several years have been renewed.

(Xinhua News Agency Nobermber 5, 2002)

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