[JURIST] The Communist Party of China (CPC) [official website; CFR backgrounder] Central Committee Sunday issued a new policy paper liberalizing the country's land use laws in an effort to decrease rural poverty and increase the country's agricultural capacity. The CPC announced its approval [JURIST report] of the Decision on Major Issues Concerning the Advancement of Rural Reform and Development last week. The reforms give farmers - for the first time - broader autonomy to sell or borrow against their land use rights and establish a financial infrastructure to allow for larger and more efficient farms. Critics worry that the new system will leave some landlords and many landless farmers without land to work. In response, the CPC maintained [Xinhua report] that the government would vigilantly protect the nation's farmland by adhering to a "most stringent land conservation system" to control the total area of land that is not used for farming. AP has additional coverage.
These reforms come as the Chinese government continues to take steps towards a more democratic, capitalist structure while addressing international criticism for alleged human rights abuses. In September, the State Council of China [official website] issued regulations [JURIST report] implementing ambiguous provisions of the Labor Contract Law [backgrounder] that was viewed as a major advancement [Bloomberg report] in China's protection of workers' rights.