Archive for the ‘land’ Category

China Announces Land Policy Aimed at Promoting Income Growth in Countryside

October 13, 2008

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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Food Shortage: More Bad News From China

April 17, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

China announced Thursday huge tariffs on fertilizer exports and said agricultural land was in rapid decline due to industrialization.

China’s official communist news agency Xinhua News announced that export tariffs on fertilizer would increase by 100%.  This will cause a virtual shutdown in the export of fertilizer from China.  This is necessary to preserve fertilizer for suffering Chinese agriculture.

The fertilizer is widely used in rice, corn and wheat growing which is essential to feed the 1.3 billion Chinese.  China also hopes to control rapidly rising domestic agricultural costs and inflation.

“Agricultural costs [in China] are going through the roof. Land prices, the cost of money, the relative cost of labor, fertilizer, a shortage of seeds,” said Paul Schulte, of Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong. “Yet rising agricultural prices can be a windfall for those with economies of scale.”

The China News agency also said the amount of farmland has decreased to crisis levels.

Western observers said the two announcements on the same day are an effort to prepare the world for a food shortage crisis in China.

File photo shows a Chinese farmer working in his field next ...File photo shows a Chinese farmer working in his field next to a chemical factory near Yixing Town in Jiangsu province. The amount of farmland in China has shrunk to critical levels, state press reported on Thursday(AFP/File/Mark Ralston)

Thailand Pledges to Export Rice at “Reasonable Cost”

Food Crisis in North Korea a “Disaster”

Food and energy costs lead wholesale prices to soar in March

Food Shortages Causing Panic?

From rice in Peru to miso in Japan, food prices are rising

Perils in The Price Of Each Grain of Rice

Lowly Rice Grain Impacts Global Economy

Vietnam may return church land, Vatican wants rallies to stop

February 1, 2008

Time is GMT + 8 hours
Posted: 2-Feb-2008 02:57 hrs 

The Vatican has asked Vietnamese Catholics to end mass prayer vigils for the return of seized church land, with the communist government signalling it would return the property, a priest said Friday.

Vietnamese Catholic Christians sing and pray for the return ...
Vietnamese Catholics sing and pray for the return of church land in Hanoi, taken by communist authorities half a century ago, in the latest of a string of such meetings, on January 5.(AFP/Frank Zeller)

Catholic followers have held daily vigils since mid-December demanding back the property that was the Vatican’s.

Vietnam Police Probe Church Land Dispute

January 29, 2008

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Police in Vietnam’s capital have launched a criminal investigation into Catholic Church protests over a land dispute, while state-run media accused church leaders Tuesday of abusing their power to incite followers to confront the Communist government.

Catholic parishioners and priests have been holding daily vigils for the past month at the disputed land, a block away from St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown Hanoi. They are praying, singing and holding candles while demanding the handing over of the land, which was taken by the government nearly four decades ago.Thousands of followers blocked the street Friday in the largest gathering, as many from outside Hanoi….

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People check decoration for Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, in ...
Tet decorations are all over in Vietnam despite the
church land dispute.

The old Vatican embassy, a former Hanoi church property is seen ...
The old Vatican embassy, a former Hanoi church property is seen Sunday, Jan. 13, 2008, in Hanoi, Vietnam. For several weeks, church leaders and their followers in Hanoi have been gathering daily to pray in front of the old Vatican embassy, one of many church properties taken over by the government after 1954. The church wants the government to return the one-hectare lot in central Hanoi, where such land is worth millions of dollars.

Vietnam’s Catholics keep pressure on communists to return land

January 27, 2008
by Aude Genet

HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam‘s Catholics have increased pressure on the authorities to return church land confiscated more than half a century ago in a rare challenge to the communist government.

Throughout the weekend, hundreds of protestors have maintained a prayer vigil in front of a house next to St Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi, the seat of the church in Vietnam until it was seized after the departure of the French and arrival of the communists in 1954.

Friday saw an even larger protest….

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Vietnam Catholics hold vigil for land

January 25, 2008
By MARGIE MASON, Associated Press Writer 

HANOI, Vietnam – Thousands of Catholics blocked a busy street in Vietnam’s capital Friday in a rare public demonstration, chanting and praying for the Communist government to return land once owned by the church.

A priest in a white robe carrying a large cross led a procession of parishioners, accompanied by a marching band, from St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown Hanoi to the adjacent site of the former Vatican embassy….

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A street vendor walks past a shop selling communist flags and ...
A street vendor walks past a shop selling communist flags and signs in Hanoi. Vietnam pledged Wednesday to improve its human rights record and work with former battlefield enemy the United States to strengthen investment, trade and people-to-people ties.(AFP/File/Hoang Dinh Nam)


Vietnamese Demand Return of Seized property

January 6, 2008
by Frank Zeller

HANOI (AFP) – Hundreds of Vietnamese Catholic Christians held prayer vigils in the capital at the weekend, the latest in a series asking for the return of church land seized by the communists half a century ago.

Vietnamese Catholic Christians sing and pray for the return ...
Vietnamese Catholics sing and pray for the return of church land in Hanoi, taken by communist authorities half a century ago, in the latest of a string of such meetings, on January 5.(AFP/Frank Zeller)

Priests and Catholic followers lit candles, placed flowers and sang at the iron fence around a property near Hanoi‘s central St Joseph’s Cathedral after Saturday prayers and Sunday masses.

They say the large French-colonial villa and the 1.1 hectares (2.7 acre) it sits on are the former office of the Vatican‘s delegate to Hanoi, confiscated by the state when he was expelled in the late 1950s.

Hanoi authorities have kept the building intact but used it as a sometime discotheque while local officials have also used the garden area, shaded by an enormous banyan tree, as a motorcycle carpark, the Christians say.

“It’s the land and the property of the church. We have the certificate of ownership of the property since 1933,” one priest from the Hanoi archdiocese told AFP, speaking on condition he not be named.

Catholics are now hopeful the dispute will be resolved after Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet during a prayer meeting with thousands of followers in late December, pledging to consider the issue.

Vietnam, a former French colony and a unified, communist country since the war ended in 1975, has Southeast Asia’s largest Catholic community after the Philippines — about six million out of a population of 84 million.

Its officially atheist communist rulers have long worried that religious groups, both Christian and Buddhist, could undermine their authority, but conditions have improved, especially for Catholics, in recent years.

While all religious activity remains under state control, the government started a dialogue with Catholics in the 1990s which led to a milestone visit to the Vatican almost a year ago by Prime Minister Dung.

Hanoi had tense relations with pope John Paul II, deemed a contributor to the defeat of Soviet communism, but congratulated his successor Benedict XVI soon after he became pontiff in 2005, saying it wanted closer relations.

Christian festivals such as Christmas have become popular, with thousands of followers and curious now crowding Vietnam’s cathedrals and churches.

Still, religious issues remain sensitive, and the state-controlled media has refrained from covering the mass prayer meetings.

Undercover police have milled in the crowds, taking video and photographs, the priest said.

“Some Catholic followers were questioned by security officials, and some say they were pressured not to attend the prayers,” said the priest, who stressed he was not speaking on behalf of the Catholic church.

Asked how he rated religious freedom in Vietnam, the priest said Catholics still cannot study to become diplomats or police officers, and that the church remains barred from operating its own newspapers, schools and hospitals.

Communist Vietnam blaming foreign forces for democracy protests

September 8, 2007

By Bill Gertz

U.S. officials say the communist government in Vietnam has broken its silence on public protests over land claims by asserting that foreign hostile forces are behind the unrest.

Rallies have been held from June through August in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Party and military newspapers have identified senior monks of the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam and two leading pro-democracy dissidents for their alleged roles in seeking to exploit the protests.

The monks were identified as UBCV leaders Thich Quang Do and Thich Khong Tanh, and the pro-democracy activists are Nguyen Khac Toan and Hoang Minh Chinh.The Vietnamese army newspaper called them “dirty puppets” over overseas forces. And the Communist Party daily compared them to two traitors in Vietnamese history, Le Chieu Thong and Tran Ich Tac. Thong, the last king of an 18th century dynasty, is known for inviting the Chinese to invade in an effort to retain his position. Tac, a 13th century prince, is known for surrendering to a Mongolian army in order to become king.

The Party commentary said the two monks and two dissidents will “be exposed and spat on” by the Vietnamese people like the earlier traitors.

The demonstrations have received no press attention in the West.

Vietnam: U.S. Congresswoman Expresses Concern

As illegal land grabs increase, so does unrest in China

Vietnam: Farmers Protest Government Land Seizures