China considers revising rural land contract law

BEIJING — China’s top legislature is mulling a revision to the law on rural land contract.

The revision aims to better define the use rights of rural land so that farmers can enjoy ‘sufficient and guaranteed protection over their land rights,’ said Liu Zhenwei, deputy director of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), at the bi-monthly legislative session of the NPC Standing Committee Tuesday.

Stressing that the state protects the stability and consistency of rural land contracts, the draft revision says that upon expiration the current round of contracts will be extended for a further 30 years.

Since the country adopted the household responsibility system in the early 1980s, the property rights of rural land have been divided into two layers: the ownership right that is collectively owned by a rural community, normally a village, and the use right that is held by an individual household that contracts a piece of land from the village.

The draft revision further separates the use right into the contract right and the management right, according to Liu.

The separation of the ownership right, contract right and management right of rural land will allow farmers to retain the contract right over their allotted land and only transfer the management right if they choose to lease the land to others, mortgage it to banks or invest it in a cooperative in exchange of shares.

More than 30 percent of rural households have transferred their contracted land, totaling 31.93 million hectares, according to Liu.