Cases involving the illegal seizure of farmland have something to do with the requisitioning of land by government from farmers for non-agricultural use.
The following questions reveal, to some extent, the unreasonable mechanism and outdated legal rules behind irregularities in this area.
When the cost of the requisition of land is 10 times or even 20 or 30 times lower than the market value of the land, is it reasonable or fair for speculators or even local governments to profit from this process?
Why are the farmers who have been tending to this land for generations pushed aside with only 5 percent when the speculators, local governments and village committees divide the bulk of the profits between them?
If such a pattern of land profit distribution continues to exist for years to come, can we expect to put the brakes on the rapid decrease in cultivated land?
The Ministry of Land and Resources will start an investigation into the process of land requisition and research the reform of the mechanism.
According to the land law, cultivated land is owned collectively by villagers, but the government has the right to requisition it for non-agricultural use. When a piece of land is occupied with government approval, the compensation for farmers should be no more than 25 times the profit the piece of land has made with its crops in the previous three years.
The stipulation might be appropriate when the land is requisitioned for the construction of major State projects. Yet, in most cases, much land has been requisitioned for the construction of commercial housing or some other commercial projects.
The price of a piece of land could be dozens of times more than the compensation paid to the farmers.
It is obvious that the way the profits are distributed is unreasonable and unfair to the farmers. The consequences have already proved to be disastrous in many ways. It has made the requisition of land the easiest means for speculators and local governments to make profits.
Those farmers who have lost their land in this process have been, on many occasions, reduced to a desperate situation, having no land to farm on and no money with which to start their own businesses. This has become a source of social unrest.
If the situation continues, it will be almost impossible to protect our limited arable land resources, the rapid shrinking of which will have a serious impact on the country's food security.
(China Daily June 23, 2006)