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Draft amendment to settle land disputes (3)

(China Daily)

09:21, December 25, 2012

He said the draft also introduces the principle of "compensation comes first", which prohibits land seizure if the compensation money has not been secured.

To provide long-term protection, the draft asks governments to allocate a specific budget to improve the social insurance of landless farmers. If their rights are being infringed upon, farmers can apply to higher governments to review the decision of land seizure, or resort to courts.

Song admitted illegal expropriation of rural land frequently has occurred in some regions, and it has become a prominent problem endangering social stability.

The Blue Book of China's Society, published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences last week, said almost half of the mass incidents in the first eight months of this year were caused by land acquisition and housing demolition. Mass incidents refer to occasions when the public stages a protest to protect rights and interests.

One such incident was in Wukan, a small village in Guangdong that made international headlines when villagers rallied for months in 2011 to protest illegal land seizures and corruption.

Experts said the draft could foil disputes stemming from compensation disagreements and ensure steady land transfer in the coming years, especially as the new leadership is counting on urbanization as the driver to unleash huge domestic demand.

Jiang Ming'an, a professor at Peking University, said urbanization should not be achieved at the cost of farmers' interests.

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