China Aviation Law

China’s Shrinking Rice Bowl – Agricultural Degradation, Land Use Policy, and Administrative Enforcement in China


****This is the second draft of my Seattle Journal for Environmental Law article. I would REALLY like to have some comments on it. As it is a draft, and I am law student, I would recommend you go do your own research before you use my work.****


China's Shrinking Rice Bowl 1

Casey DuBose, Seattle Journal of Environmental Law, Draft 2, 3 Mar. 2011

Solving the problem of feeding around one billion people must be continually designated as a high priority in running the country well and maintaining peace.” State Council, 2009.

In 2007, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) capped 30 years of economic liberalization with a revolutionary land law. 2 This law, the Property Law of the People’s Republic of China, granted the private acquisition of land-use to both foreign and domestic private parties. 3 Starting in 2008, agricultural collectives, which traditionally had limited ability to transfer land use from agricultural to urban or industrial, began to contract with non-agricultural developers, under a similarly revolutionary policy statement - Decision on Certain Issues Concerning the Advancement of Rural Reform and Development. 4 5 These laws had the aim to help flatten the economic disparity between the increasing rich urban population and the increasingly marginalized peasant agricultural class. Their goal was to spur the development of modern agriculture and promote the construction of a “new socialist countryside.”6

Unfortunately, the last 30 years of economic growth has taken a hard environmental and social toll on that countryside. Spurred by a great flood of cheap, migratory labor leaving the agricultural areas, and years of industrial development, agricultural land has been converted to residential, commercial, and industrial land at an unprecedented rate.

This conversion, which has been accomplished through both legal and illegal means, has also affected China's grain security, contributed to increased agricultural pollution, and created large groups of landless migratory workers. Existing laws have provided a framework to limit the conversion of agricultural land, but their language and enforcement is inadequate. Indeed, changes such as the 2008 Decision have inadvertently exacerbated a growing problem of agricultural land destruction. With available arable land at an all-time low and an ever-increased rate of conversion, the Chinese government must make the conservation and regulation of agricultural land a high priority.