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China determined to retain 1.8-billion-mu of farmland
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"Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, we will take all possible measures to retain no less than 1.8 billion mu (15 mu=1 hectare) of farmland," said Yun Xiaosu, Vice Minister of Land and Resources, on March 14, during the on-going 11th National People's Congress.

"Sufficient farmland is of vital importance to the national economy and the people's livelihood. At the end of 2006, China had some 1.82 billion mu of farmland. After years of dedicated efforts, we can say that it is highly likely we will be able to retain 1.8 billion mu," the vice minister said.

Yun Xiaosu

Starting September last year, the Ministry of Land and Resources mounted a 100-Day Law Enforcement Campaign, during which some 30,000 violations were discovered. The area of farmland involved in these cases amounted to more than 3 million mu. "We are investigating each case and are considering appropriate punishments," Mr. Yun said. The campaign has played a significant role in curbing the illegal use of farmland. Encouraged by the result of this survey, the ministry is to adopt more long-term measures to ensure the enforcement of laws regarding land use. For instance, in 2008, the ministry has a plan to use remote sensing satellites to draw a detailed map of the country's land. The aim is to quickly spot instances of illegal land use and carry out prompt action.

China's second national land survey is now under way, 10 years after the first one of its kind. "Through the survey, we will develop a clear picture of China's conditions, strengths and weak points; we will carry out more efficient measures to protect farmland, and we will gain a better understanding of the current land situation in urban and rural areas," the vice minister said.

Village land is collectively owned in China. Protecting the legal interests of farmers is a major concern for the government. According to Mr. Yun, many laws, regulations and policies have been introduced to safeguard farmers' legal use of land. However, with the country's rapid economic and social progress, new problems have arisen. "We will work hard to investigate the new situation and improve the efficiency of our efforts to address the issues," said the vice minister.

(China.org.cn by staff reporter Chen Xia, March 17, 2008)

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