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New Look at Land Rights Problem
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China urgently needs a new rural land ownership mechanism to guarantee farmers' legal rights and security, according to a UN-China project inked in Beijing on December 20.


Jointly launched by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Chinese government, the four-year project aims to revitalize rural China by addressing problems of property rights, local governance and the provision of public services.


With initial funding of US$5 million covering a rural population of 400 million in eight pilot provinces, the project promotes clear, equitable and efficient land acquisition mechanisms, improved local governance, the provision of public goods and services in rural areas and the protection of farmers' rights and interests.


"Securing rural land rights, giving farmers more bargaining power and ensuring they get sufficient compensation for their land are critical to rural reform in China. Stories abound of farmers being forced off their land with little compensation and no means of recourse," said Khalid Malik, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in China at the signing ceremony.


China has put rural reform at the top of its agenda, said Huang Zongli, director of the Department of International Cooperation and Science of the Ministry of Land Resources. "The core of the reform is to protect the rights of farmers to exploit or transfer their land in a sound legal environment."


The project is a joint effort between UNDP, the Ministry of Land Resources (MLR), the China Institute of Reform and Development (CIRD), and the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE) under the Ministry of Commerce.


(Xinhua News Agency December 21, 2006)

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