Presentation by Shouzhi Wang, Ministry of Land and Resources, on Government's Land Reform as part of the "Panel on China's Land Management System Reform: Issues, Progress and Prospect" which took place during the annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty held in Washington DC from March 23 to 27, 2015.
China’s land management system has several special features. Urban land is owned by the state, and rural land is collectively owned by the villages. Individuals are allowed by the law to possess land use rights. The state enforces land use control. A primary objective of land use control is farmland preservation due to the scarcity of the nation’s farmland on the per capita basis. With rapid industrialization, urbanization and socioeconomic development, China’s land issues are increasingly becoming acute.
On one hand, the scarcity of land constrains economic growth. On the other hand, land use is often coarse and sometimes wasteful. The rural buildable land could not efficiently be transferred into better use due to the legal barrier created by the dichotomy of urban and rural land management structure. Despite the strict policy for farmland preservation, moreover, protecting farmland remains a huge implementation challenge. Effectively dealing with these issues hinges on the current land management system reform, which is one of the center pieces of the new round of comprehensive economic reform. The land reform direction is to keep the state ownership of urban land and collective ownership of rural land unchanged, while finding ways to implement more effectively the farmland preservation policy, improve the efficiency of land use, and protect the benefits and rights of farmers during conversion of rural land to urban use. Key reform actions include real estate asset registration, policy measures to improve land use efficiency and land expropriation process, and measures to allow the sale of collectively owned rural buildable land.