Pictured above: schematic to show how much land each rural China citizen has to grow food, crops, make a living and provide for themselves: only 45 meters by 45 meters. You try it.
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[dropcap] O [/dropcap]n December 12th, 2014, just after being elected China’s new president, Xi Jinping made a bold declaration that almost nobody outside China heard (https://www.guancha.cn/politics/2014_12_02_302253.shtml). It was at a small meeting, called the Seventh CPC Central Committee Meeting on Deepening Reform. This is where the top 300 leaders get together to strategize and plan for the future. During his presentation, Xi put forward the “three bottom lines” of,
- Adhering to not changing collective ownership of land.
- Adhering to the red line of 1. 8 billion mu of (120 million hectares = three billion acres) of collectively owned farmland to not be privatized
- Protecting farmers’ interests.
Lots of people outside China don’t know that there are still thousands of villages that rejected the 1980s’ dismantling of the collective ownership of farms. One-hundred-twenty million hectares is only one-percent of the national total farmland, but they are powerful symbols of what life was like for the 750 million farmers during the Mao Era. As described by real Chinese who actually lived in rural China in the 1950s-1970s, people like Mobo Gao (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/03/30/from-poor-peasant-to-phd-professor-mobo-gaos-revolutionary-upbringing-during-chinas-mao-era/) and Dongping Han (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2016/11/09/son-of-the-revolution-dongping-han-on-growing-up-during-chinas-great-leap-forward-and-cultural-revolution-china-rising-radio-sinoland-161110/) show that collective farming was a very popular, productive economic system and way of life. I interviewed both of them on my China Rising Radio Sinoland show and read their books. They talked about how devasting the transition was in the early 1980s, from collectivized farming to essentially “private” contract farms, where the state kept and still keeps ownership of all real estate in China, but signed contracts with the farmers to individually utilize plots of land as they each saw fit.
What happened was chaos for China’s rural people. Tens of thousands of local elementary, middle and high schools were shut down for a lack of funds. These institutions of learning were opened during the Cultural Revolution, the first time in 5,000 years that peasants had access to K-12 education and chance to go to university. Hundreds of millions of farm folk fled their ancestral lands in search of work, since they could no longer feed and clothe themselves without the collectivized web of support provided during the Mao Era. This is the famous floating (migrant) population that is still in existence today.
All over China, crime became epidemic, including murders, robberies, burglaries, petty theft, domestic and public violence – the usual tableau of social degeneration found in capitalist, dog-eat-dog economies. Suddenly, China’s cities were no longer safe. They were full of mean streets and menace, just like in the West. To quote Morris Berman (http://morrisberman.blogspot.com/), China, like the United States, had turned into a nation of hustlers. This is what my family moved into, when we first arrived in China in 1990.
My biggest regret in writing Book #1 of The China Trilogy (http://chinarising.puntopress.com/2017/05/19/the-china-trilogy/), 44 Days (https://ganxy.com/i/88276/), was misdiagnosing the reason why Chinese society was so hardened, cynical and lawless back in the 1990s, when we lived here for seven years. Still being brainwashed by Big Lie Western Propaganda, I blamed it on being a hangover from the Cultural Revolution, which ended in 1976. At that time, all I knew was what Eurangloland’s media spit out by the boatload: capitalist reforms during the 1980s saved China’s rural folk and made them all rich, fat and happy. Ditto the urbanites. It was all these peachy-peachy, hunky-dory market economy miracles that were making China and its people more and more Western by the day. Why, it would only be a few years, bloviated Western mainstream media, and the Chinese would be having pluralistic democracy and “real” freedoms. Before you knew it, China would have its actor leaders like Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Bono, Al Franken and Donald Trump. Oh, joy! Back then, that’s what I called progress.
But now I realize that the dysfunctional society we lived in 25 years ago was not due to after-effects of the Cultural Revolution. The real reason was that all the reforms in the 1980s-1990s completely disrupted China’s millennial communist-socialist way of life, causing socioeconomic paroxysms in both the countryside and cities. People became meaner, greedier, more selfish, cutthroat, self-centered, less cooperative and trusting because China adopted so many capitalist trappings after the Cultural Revolution.
I kind of sort of got it when I was researching and writing Book #2 of The China Trilogy, China Rising – Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations (https://ganxy.com/i/113798/) and it finally sunk into my thick, brainwashed head for Book #3, China Is Communist Dammit – Dawn of the Red Dynasty (https://www.amazon.com/China-Communist-Dammit-Dawn-Dynasty/dp/6027354380/). It goes to show you that even after living in China for many years and traveling all over the world since 1980, just how thorough and efficient is the West’s Big Lie Propaganda Machine. It was in my mother’s milk and it was force fed to me from birth.
Millions of Chinese farmers figured this out long before I did, and more and more rural areas are taking up President Xi’s promise that collectivized land ownership, stewardship and production must be maintained and hopefully expanded. China has 200 million farm households with an average of 0.65 hectares per rural family, not per rural person. At three persons per family, that is only about 2,000 square meters per person, or a patch of land that is about 45 meters by 45 meters each. That’s it, to grow high volume commercial crops like wheat, corn, soybeans and rice.
Given this reality, it turns logic on its head to expect rural Chinese families to compete against each other and not work collectively. Actually, many are already semi-collectivized, where the farmers share tools, machinery and make cooperative decisions about what to grow each season, for increased productivity. But, publicly owned, collectivized agriculture is more in line with global, historical socioeconomic traditions, from Ancient Egypt, African kingdoms and Pre-Columbian America, to modern day China.
Below is an article about 18 rural cadres (elected and/or respected village leaders), whose farmers have decided that collectivization is more profitable, more productive and more modern, than privatized farms. It’s worth reading, as they speak with envy of the always-collectivized, nearby villages, that are much more prosperous and have better public services than their privately-owned ones. It explains, farm boots on the ground, how the 1980s reforms were not the panacea that Western propaganda promoted, and it frankly discusses the disappointments and problems they caused.
President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party of China (CPC) leadership are obviously aware of this situation around the country. This is why they gave a green light to the rural masses to go back to future of Mao Era collectivization. Baba Beijing clearly sees this as one more avenue to eliminate, by the year 2020, the last vestiges of extreme poverty in the countryside.
To wit, the article, whose machine translation I cleaned up a little, since I don’t have time to really make it something Virginia Woolf and D.H. Lawrence would be proud of, but you’ll get the picture…
18 rural cadres in Zhejiang have signed a petition calling for the country to restore public ownership (https: //mp. weixin. qq. com/s/YaVHxukmOPw_POZ8OJX6kA)
Food Sovereignty Press: more than 30 years ago, 18 villagers in Xiaogang Village, Anhui Province, pressed red fingerprints and jointly asked for farmland to be divided into households. Today, 18 rural cadres in Zhejiang Province jointly issued an initiative to strengthen collective ownership, innovate the land management systems, and put forward the road initiated by Huaxi Village, Nanjie Village, Zhoujiazhuang Rural Agricultural and Commercial Cooperative, and Zhejiang Hangmin, Tengtoudeng Collectivized Village.
The two totally different voices are from the rural front-line practitioners. What is different is that the former becomes the benchmark of land subcontracting to households, while the latter is a reflection on the practice of this system for more than 30 years. In the past 30 years, due to the severe weakening of the collective economy, the village collective has been unable to provide public goods and services and cannot establish credibility. Farmers are scattered, agriculture is fragmented, the rural economy is unable to develop, and rural society tends to disintegrate. Xiaogang Village, a typical village of private property, has not yet become rich. On the contrary, Huaxi Village, Nanjie Village and Liuzhuang Village, which adhere to the collective economic road, have achieved economic development and social harmony. Practice has proved that small-scale agriculture based on land resource marketization and privatization is not a sustainable path for China’s three rural areas.
Today, 18 new and old rural grassroots cadres in Jinyun County, Zhejiang, have jointly proposed strengthening the collective ownership of land and innovating the agricultural management system. This voice from the grassroots cadres who have been working on the frontline for a long time has broken the mainstream media’s consistent view of the collective economy. Under the background that the problems of agriculture, rural areas and farmers have accumulated, they are working hard to find a bright way out for China’s rural areas, agriculture and farmers. We hope that this initiative will draw the attention of all sectors of society and lead to a wider discussion of the collective economy and the future path of rural areas.
The body of the 18 rural cadres from Zhejiang Province jointly sent the proposal to the whole country’s rural cadres and masses, entitled,
We will strengthen the collective ownership of land and innovate the land management system for rural grassroots cadres
(My notes: “three rurals” means agricultural villages, rural manufacturing and farmers. “Three-rights division” means the post-1980s reforms that spell out land ownership rights, contractual rights and management rights. “Enclosure movement” is when the government buys farmland from rural owners to develop modern real estate, so of which are good, like low income housing and public services, but some which are commercial, like selling million-dollar villas and building shopping centers. This is what President Xi means about protecting farmers’ interests.)
We are Zhejiang Jinyun County rural grassroots cadres, in view of the plight of subcontracting in the home land management system, as current agriculture and “enclosure movement” has become more and more disadvantaged. We are pushing for truly certified rights to the home policy that may cure the subcontract contradictions, to bring capital back to the countryside, since right now, the open-door policy is deeply worrying. To this end, we have put forward the initiative of strengthening the collective ownership of land and innovating the land management system to the masses of rural grassroots cadres across the country. The land system is not only the basic system of the country, but also the root of the problem of agriculture, rural areas and farmers. At present, China’s agriculture is becoming more and more weak and the countryside is becoming more and more decaying. This is neither the result of the incomplete implementation of the policy of subcontracting to households, nor the unsmooth transfer of land, nor the solution that can be solved by the confirmation and certification of land use rights to households. The crux of the issue is that the land system of “one size fits all” subcontracting to households and the unified contract period of the whole country is not only inconsistent with the reality that China’s geographical environment and cultural conditions vary greatly, but also goes against the principle of democratic centralism in rural areas in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the people to independently choose the way of operation. In fact, from the implementation of the land subcontract to the household policy, there exists land circulation, there is no land circulation problem of adverse impact on “three rurals”.
Moreover, in the process of subcontracting the land to households in 1982 and extending the land contract period in 2008, farmers’ land management rights have been confirmed according to the population at that time, and there is no need to be confirmed again. What is worrying is that the registration and certification of contracted management rights are raised in the debate over whether to privatize land and promote capital going to the countryside. We think, as it is necessary to implement land privatization doesn’t compromise that this debate, the right to the contracted management of land approval registration agencies will solidify and intensify the land after the subcontract to the home of all sorts of contradictions and problems, will certainly lower capital sooner or later to the countryside and even national funds for supporting agriculture opens the door, will make the land circulation farmers farming once can’t go back to the home of the new “enclosure movement”. The ministry of agriculture stated in the pilot notice on the confirmation, registration and certification of land contract and management rights that the most practical and important significance of carrying out this work is to “increase farmers’ property income”. But common sense tells us, land use authority card is impossible to increase farmer production to manage income, also impossible to increase farmer subcontract land (rent) income. However, from the leadership of the ministry of agriculture about the right to contract the use of land to farmers is “real right, award iron evidence”, eat permanent and unchanging expectations “calm heart”, we recognize that, in this way, the collective ownership of land has become “virtual right”, the collective ownership of land has become “clay certificate”. Only in this way can farmers’ real property income be increased. It seems that the modern theory of property rights, based on privatization, has begun to mislead the reform of rural land system after the reform of state-owned enterprises. When the leadership of ministry of agriculture is answering “three-rights division”, already used the concept of “use real right” in modern property right theory, believe to will introduce more concept later, till make rural cadre masses confused. In fact, if the purpose is to increase farmers’ access to funds, relevant departments can fully formulate policies such as rural farmers’ house mortgage, project appraisal special loan and farmer credit guarantee loan, why should they use land use warrant mortgage loan that may endanger collective ownership? We are worried that the confirmation and registration of land use rights will lead the reform of “three-rights division” of land to the wrong direction, and weaken and dilute the already fragile collective ownership of land. The material foundation and system guarantee of developing collective economy will be lost, and the function of rural grass-roots organizations will be weakened or even disintegrated. To meet the objective requirements of agricultural production, new obstacles will be created for the moderate scale intensive operation of agricultural land. Will certainly induce the rural society new ethnic contradictions, return to the general scattered sand pattern. In a word, the confirmation of land use rights to the households will eventually destroy the collective ownership of land. General secretary about land system in order to implement the fall internship series speech spirit, combined with the village, village and township Zhouguzhuang cooperatives and the successful experience of our province Hangmin Village, Tengtoudeng Village, is also given in guiding farmers around the scale and intensive production and business operation not only appeared in a variety of types and properties of different family farms, agricultural leading enterprises and joint stock cooperative (nongyeshe) system, and will be back to the village collective business contracted land circulation of the actual situation, we sent the broad masses of rural grassroots cadres to strengthen the collective land ownership, land management system innovation initiative:
First, firmly hold the right direction of innovating rural land management system. At the Seventh CPC Central Committee Meeting on Deepening Reform, General Secretary Xi put forward the “three bottom lines” of “adhering to the unchanged collective ownership of land, adhering to the red line of 1. 8 billion mu of farmland (120 million hectares = three billion acres) and protecting farmers’ interests”. When investigating Xiaogang Village, he stressed that “no matter how it is changed, the rural collective ownership cannot be destroyed”. Investigation in Heilongjiang pointed out that “agricultural cooperatives are the development direction”. These speech spirits pointed out the right direction for us to innovate the rural land management system, and required us to always give prominence to developing the collective economy and adhering to the road of cooperation and collectivization.
Second, uphold the principle of democratic centralism in which the minority is subordinate to the majority. To play to the role of the rural grassroots autonomous organizations and adhere to the organic unity of democratic centralism, the implementation of ownership, consulting and management policy of “separation of division” and develop collective economy, cooperative and collectivization road and a series of rural policy process, in the full discussion and adhere to the principle of the minority is subordinate to the majority, based on the independent choice in accordance with their respective actual specific land management mode, make the effective and rational allocation of limited land resources, to solve the problem of land pastureland.
Third, implement the policy of member rights under the collective ownership of land. When rural land is subcontracted to households, the practice of contracting rights (actually granting income distribution rights) remains unchanged. This leads to the awkward situation that the natural population changes and the land contract right cannot be adjusted accordingly: some people still have the contract right as enterprise workers and civil servants because of the promotion to higher education, while the reasonable appeal of farmers who should gain the contract right will not be solved. In view of this problem, in the process of innovating the land management system, we should conscientiously implement the relevant policies of the member right under the collective ownership of land (the actual right to distribute income), and promote the effective and reasonable allocation of land resources to farmers. This is not only the expectation of the rural cadres and masses over the years, but also a realistic problem that should be solved seriously.
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