China's Party and government discipline watchdogs pledged to protect farmers from malpractice in farmland management and rural democracy.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Ministry of Supervision issued a circular in Beijing on Wednesday, planning to address problems that harmed farmers' interests.
The CCDI and ministry will supervise related government departments so they don't harm farmers interests when they handle cases of subcontracting farmland usage rights, the circular said.
Farmland in China is owned by the state, but farmers can use the land by signing contracts which mean they must pay a certain amount of the land's output.
The CPC had just issued a new policy document in mid October to allow farmers to "lease their contracted farmland or transfer their land-use right."
"We will supervise related parties in such cases so that the ownership of the land and the way it is used are not changed and farmers' legal rights on the land are intact," the circular said.
The two departments will tighten supervision on compensation policies for farmland that is taken back by the government for public construction.
The compensation for the farmland should be rational and paid to farmers promptly while social insurance should be in place after farmers lose their land, which is their way of making a living, it said.
The country has experienced a series of protests in rural areas concerning farmland management.
The latest one was reported in northwestern Gansu Province on Monday. More than 30 residents in Dongjiang Town, Wudu District, attacked local government buildings Monday night demanding solutions concerning their farmland, housing and livelihoods.
The two departments will urge the government to introduce public bidding in transferring or leasing village property to prevent backdoor activities by some village officials.
According to the circular, the two departments also planned to crack down on manipulation of elections by village committee members, bribing voters or threatening them by violence.
Efforts will be made to help villages set up a system to allow villager representatives to engage in village governance and decision-making.
The two departments also planned to fight illegal administrative charges for farmers, such as power and water supply, birth control, house building and undertaking affairs.
"We will carefully handle complaints submitted by farmers and expand the channel for them to express their requests," the document said.
(Xinhua News Agency November 20, 2008)