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China's Millions of Landless Farmers

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Published on Aug 12, 2011

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The Chinese regime's push for urbanization and economic growth has left behind a large group of people -- farmers. A recent report says tens of millions of farmers across China now have no land. The source of their livelihood is being taken by authorities, who then turn it into GDP boosting property developments.

More than 50 million Chinese farmers are without land. Two-thirds are living under difficult conditions. That's according to a report released by China's Academy of Social Sciences, or CASS, earlier this month. The Academy says the number is growing by three million each year.

The 2011 China Urban Development Report identifies landless farmers as a unique group in society, who are losing out in the country's push for GDP growth. One sure way for local authorities to boost their GDP is through property development. That's been bad news for farmers, because it's their land and livelihood that are being seized -- often without proper compensation.

[Tian Li, Political Commentator]:
"Over the past few days, landless farmers from Anhui and Hefei have looked for me. The data I've seen is devastating. I feel China's farmers are the most unfortunate in the world. They have been left behind by the state and the society. My heart is very heavy."

Once farmers are left without land, their livelihood becomes a major concern. Sixty percent of those surveyed by CASS say they have difficult living conditions. A source of income, retirement and healthcare are just some of the things these farmers are worried about.

[Wen Zhao, NTD Commentator]:
"The problem for farmers is that they have no social security, no career security and no retirement security, and basically no health care. Land was the only source for their livelihood. Once they lose their land, their income is cut off. They'll become vagrants. Aside from looking for work in the city, there're no other options."

Land disputes in China have been the source of escalating social tension. The CASS report says the Chinese regime has failed to properly assist landless farmers. It says 60 percent of farmers who petition authorities do so because of their land. A third of these cases directly involve land seizures.

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