What is the urgent problem to solve for rural reform, you ask? Just now, the reporter asked about what the basic considerations for land reform are. When we talk about the central government’s rural land reform, we call it “three lands reform” (i.e. contracted land, collectively owned commercial land, and homesteads). The implementation of this pilot reform project has been helmed by the relevant departments. First we must make it clear that the expropriation of land, the collectively owned commercial land’s entrance onto the market, and rural homestead system reform are all pilot programs. We have to choose some county governments in China with certain conditions to shoulder the tasks of pilot reforms.
The reform of the rural land system will involved a very complicated group of stakeholders. Frankly speaking, we can’t totally form consensus because major differences exist in some aspects, and we can’t see all the problems clearly at the moment. That is why we are trying the pilot reforms. As we test them out, we can reach conclusions, and we can improve the programs before we promote them. The tasks of the “three lands reform” pilot projects should be finished by 2017, so our main goal is to push forward and create good pilots reforms before the end of 2017. All of society and the media are paying attention to rural land reform, and the central government has also set “three bottom lines”: no change in the nature of public ownership, no crossing the red line of farmland (which means “keeping the minimum amount of farmland steady”), and farmers’ interests should not be harmed. The three bottom lines we set don’t mean we will not reform. Instead, we set the bottom lines so we can reform better. For example, the bottom line of “no change in the nature of public ownership” was set because China’s Constitution holds that China’s land system is about state ownership and collective ownership. The reforms cannot go against the Constitution. Collective ownership has some flaws, and the system needs to be improved. Our current reforms shall basically follow the rule that collective land ownership must be implemented, and it must be clear who the owner of the property is. In the next step, we will deepen the reform of this aspect. As we implement collective land ownership on this basis, we should maintain the farmers’ contractual rights to the land. Contractual rights only belong to the collective group’s members. Not everyone has these rights. Farmers’ rights must remain stable so that they do not have to worry about the future. We will loosen control on commercial and operating rights to rural land based on these conditions. When we talk about the transfer of rural land, we are actually talking about the transfer of rights to manage the rural land. The three rights should be granted separately so that we can achieve better reforms.