from "Report of a pilot study on poverty, land abandonment and rural institutions", produced by the Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, People's Republic of China, in collaboration with the FAO Rural Development Division
THE FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE in the setup of China's existing rural farmland system centres on ambiguity in the definition of land ownership rights. Despite stipulations in the Constitution and Land Management Law, specifying that rural land is owned by the collective, it is nevertheless unclear which of the "three levels of ownership'' in the collective -- People's Communes, production brigades and production groups - is referred to. Furthermore, even if it had designated the ownership to a certain level in the collective, the problem would again emerge from the lack of a clear scope of the collective and its membership. Added to this ambiguity in the ownership of land is the incompleteness of the principal land property right, as the State has the authority to dispose of the land, while the farmer occupies the rental income, resulting in a drain on land revenue and difficulties in land circulation.
Therefore, it is necessary to review the whole process of changes in the farmland system and find the correct point of departure for reform. In fact, such issues as egalitarian occupation of land, scattered land management, instability in farmland contracts and lack of circulation or efficiency have all resulted from an ambiguous... [continues]
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