China: Amendments to Land Administration Law adopted amid increasing concern over undercompensation for expropriated land from farmers

"China is making new progress in revising its Land Administration Law. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress [adopted] amendments to the Land Administration Law……The main focuses are trial reforms in the areas of rural land expropriation, the marketization of rural collective construction land, and the homestead land system — the three areas where the contradictions of China’s land management system are increasingly concentrated…

…The [existing] Land Administration Law, which was first promulgated in 1986…states that there should be no transfer or leasing of the right to use land collectively owned by farmers...This system has long been criticized for allowing undercompensation for expropriated land, and for the unfair distribution of gains from land appreciation...The situation has…seriously infringes directly on farmers’ rights and interests…"

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Article
29 December 2018

China's top legislature adopts revised law on contracting rural land

Author: Xinhua News

The Standing Committee of China's top legislature the National People's Congress (NPC)...adopt[ed] a revised law on contracting rural land and arrangements on the NPC's annual plenary session in 2019, among other topics. At the closing meeting, lawmakers voted to adopt revisions to the law on contracting rural land to better protect the rights of farmers who have migrated to urban areas...

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Article
24 December 2018

China’s Land Reforms Must Be Grounded in Law

Author: Caixin

China is making new progress in revising its Land Administration Law. The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress is set to deliberate on proposed amendments to the Land Administration Law…during its seventh meeting from Dec. 23-29…The main focuses are trial reforms in the areas of rural land expropriation, the marketization of rural collective construction land, and the homestead land system — the three areas where the contradictions of China’s land management system are increasingly concentrated…

…The [existing] Land Administration Law, which was first promulgated in 1986…states that there should be no transfer or leasing of the right to use land collectively owned by farmers. Collective land can enter the market as land for construction only if it is converted into state-owned land through expropriation, the law says. When that happens, the government is required to take charge of supply. Local governments thus gain a monopoly over the primary land market and are able to “fix” the price of land during expropriation. This system has long been criticized for allowing undercompensation for expropriated land, and for the unfair distribution of gains from land appreciation.

…[C]ontradictions caused or reflected by land issues are becoming increasingly acute...rural collective construction land is currently prevented from entering the market at the same price as state-owned construction land; usufructuary rights for homesteads have not been fully put into place; and the mechanism for distributing income from land appreciation has major flaws. The situation has…seriously infringes directly on farmers’ rights and interests…

…Incidents like reckless land expropriation or deadly demolition disputes reflect the poor state of rural land rights…The proposed revision to the law aims to narrow the scope of land acquisition, standardize acquisition procedures, and clarify the scope of public interest — a commendable effort. However…there still needs to be a systematic way to protect the livelihoods and living standards of farmers whose land has been expropriated…

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Article
24 December 2018

Sea of changes as China considers revising Land Administration Law

Author: Zhu Zheng, CGTN

...The amendment marks the first time that the so-called “presumption of state expropriation in non-agricultural use of rural collective land,” a practice that the state has kept for decades, is abandoned...the [existing] laws tied up state expropriation with urbanization and de-agrarianization, i.e. when turning land legally designated for agricultural uses into land for non-agricultural purposes, state expropriation is necessary...

As for the possible implications, it is clear that the removal of expropriation steers clear of the normative boundaries for collective-owned land being used for non-agricultural purposes. In this sense, collective owners are allowed, if not encouraged, to lease out or transfer land for industrial and commercial uses, as long as the registration process is completed.

This at least ushers in two important changes. First, the amendment further curtails the powers of the local governments, as the scope of the land that can be taken is substantially limited to only six circumstances, say, infrastructure construction, public affairs, and large-scale buildings, where expropriations are permitted. As a result, the government's discretion to make compensation decisions are largely contained....

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