BEIJING — Chinese leaders said Sunday that they would adopt a rural growth policy aimed at vastly increasing the income of China’s hundreds of millions of farmers by the year 2020, setting in motion what could be the nation’s biggest economic reform in years.
The new policy is intended to stimulate market-driven economic growth in the countryside and to narrow the enormous income disparity between rural and urban Chinese, one of the largest such gaps in the world. Its adoption is another significant step away from the system of communal farming and collectivization put in place under Mao.
Above: Chinese farmer works veggies in western China. (Photo: Reuters)
The announcement, made through reports in state news organizations on Sunday night, came at the end of the Communist Party’s annual four-day planning session. The reports did not give details of the reform, nor did they say when the plan would take effect. Policy decisions made at the planning session are often given pro forma approval by the National People’s Congress in an annual meeting the following March before details are unveiled and implementation begins.
Scholars and government advisers said in interviews during the four-day session that the new policy would allow China’s more than 800 million peasants to engage in the unrestricted trade or sale of land-use contracts, good for decades, that are given to them by the government. Adopting such a system would be a significant move toward privatization.
Since early October, state news media have run stories extolling the virtues of a system in which farmers would be able to trade, purchase or sell their land rights.
State news reports on Sunday night described the rural reform package in general terms, but said that a new land management system would be put in place. A draft of the new policy that had been written up by the Central Committee began….
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