Washington International Law Journal


Since 1978, China has achieved significant improvements in the rural sector through the adoption of the baogan daohu system, which effectively dismantled the communal farming system and created individual family farms. However, meaningful measures must be taken to ensure that farmers have continued use of their farmland and that illegal land reclamation by local govermnents is halted. Because farmers' rights are not clearly articulated and cannot be readily enforced, local governments appear to be beyond central government control. Furthermore, due to the state's right to reclaim land under any logic, farmers' rights may ultimately be nonexistent. Though developing a meaningful system of dispute resolution and enforcement in rural China will be difficult and require systematic changes in the relationship between the central and local governments, ignoring the rising problems could prove disastrous. The underlying conflict between central and local governments and state and Party policies must be resolved in order for Chinese farming to truly operate "according to the law."

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