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Documents on Reform of Agriculture Reclamation Launched
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Zhen Zhong, Associate Professor;

School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development

Renmin University of China


China’s land reclamation was developed under special historical circumstance in order to bear the national missions. Alter 60-year development, it has established 1780 state-owned farms, 5400 state-owned or state-holding enterprises in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, covering an area of 362000 square kilometers, 6.2427 million hectares of cultivated land, 14.13 million population, 3.19 million employees, and 1.2 trillion yuan of state-owned properties (excluding land and other resource assets), which has become an economic and social system featuring a comprehensive operation of agriculture, industry and business, overall development of the primary, secondary and tertiary industries, and improved scientific, educational, culture and health facilities.

Currently, the land reclamation management system has three types. The first one is Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which was managed directly by the central government with an integrated system involving the party, the army and enterprises. The second one is reclamation areas directly subordinated to the central government, including Heilongjiang and Guangdong. It adopted a management system in which the ministry and provinces both ordered the reclamation areas with a priority to the province. The third one is local reclamation areas, with two sub-levels. One is directly led by provinces, and the other is led by cities and counties.

In current and future period, China will face more restraints from resources and environment in agricultural development. The industry has more fierce international competition, heavier tasks of safeguarding national food security and efficient supply of major agro-products, and more complicated situations in protecting stability and harmony of border areas. The land reclamation has advanced productive forces and special advantages, which played a prominent role in the country’s overall development strategies. However, the industry has some problems such as inflexible operation and management systems, unsound policy systems, and difficulties in operation of some state-owned farmers, which required further reform to promote a healthy and sustainable development of land reclamation.

Under such circumstances, the MoA and the State Council Research Office took the lead and cooperated with the Office of Central Rural Work Leading Group, the State Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of China, the Ministry of Land and Resources, and the Ministry of Commerce to form a working group on the drafting of documents on the reform of land reclamation. After in-depth research and consultations, it accomplished the opinion. The 17th meeting of the central leading group on comprehensive reform and the 102nd executive meeting of the State Council approved the opinion, and then on November 27, 2015, the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the State Council officially published the opinion on promoting reform on land reclamation. It is the first time in 24 years, that the central government published a document on the overall planning of reform on land reclamation.

Main contents

The opinion has five parts and 23 articles. The first part has three articles, which pointed out the special status and important role of land reclamation in new era. It briefly reviewed the historic contributions of land reclamation, outlined huge achievements made in the industry, and analyzed major problems currently. It expounded that land reclamation is an indispensable and important part of agriculture and economy systems with China’s characteristics and strengthened the importance of developing land reclamation, which will promote the common development of various ownership economy in agriculture, improve China’s basic economic system, and consolidate the ruling foundation for the Party. The opinion proposed that, under the new circumstance, the country should build the land reclamation development as the national team that could safeguard national grain security and efficient supply of major agro-products, as demonstration areas for new agricultural modernization with China’s characteristics, as pacesetters for foreign cooperation in agriculture, and as the stabilizer for safeguarding stability in border areas.

The second part has three articles, which made clear the overall requirements of land reclamation reform and development. It stressed that reform and development in land reclamation should insist on the directing role of the socialist market economy. It regarded the grain safety and efficient supply of major agro-products as a core, and worked under the main principles of promoting the conglomeration of reclamation areas and restructuring reform in enterprises in order to develop the industry and better serve national strategies. The development and reform of land reclamation should uphold the state-owned attributes, the leading role of the market and supporting role of the government. It should uphold four major principles, referring to give guidance to different levels of related organizations, taking responsibilities at different levels, making overall plans and taking all factors into consideration, and promoting the development steadily. The opinion proposed three specific objectives in the aspects of reform, development and construction of people’s livelihood.

The third part has seven articles, which focused on deepening the reform on management system and operation system. It gave answers on how to promote reform on the reclamation areas and farms, and how to deal with employees, assets and land management system in seven aspects. The first one is to promote reform on the conglomeration in reclamation areas, enhance the enterprises’ integrative recombination and corporatization of farms, establish parent-subsidiary corporation system with capitals as bonds, and build large-scale modern agriculture enterprises. The second one is reform the current social functions of state-owned farms. It plans to transfer the social management functions and public service functions of state-owned farms to local governments. The third one is to innovate agricultural management and operation system, and uphold the dual operation system featuring the basis of improving family-operation and large farms leading small Farms, in order to develop various kinds of- agricultural operation at moderate scale. The fourth one is to build new system of labor power employment, and improve the system of hiring employees, training and evaluation in order to build a marketized employment system with the labor contract system as a core. The fifth is to improve social insurance, bring employees and residents in reclamation areas into the social insurance system, and allow special insurance and payment methods based on the specific production features of each reclamation area. The sixth one is to improve regulatory system on state-owned property, and build a system which matches the specific conditions of land reclamation and focuses on the management of capitals. The seventh is to innovate land management methods, strengthen the protection on land rights, innovate the collocation methods of land resources and vitalize the state-owned farmland resources.

The fourth part has six articles, which promoted the development of modern agricultural in land reclamation. It mainly reflected the advanced roles, the demonstration roles and the leading roles if the industry. The first one is to build large agro-product production bases, and increase support for reclamation areas with rich land resources and outstanding comparative advantages. The second one is to develop the processing and distribution industry of agro-products, build a whole-industrial chain, and promote integrated development of the primary, secondary and tertiary industries. The third one is to improve the scientific and technological innovation capacities, and go in advance nationwide in the aspects of developing fine breeds, mechanization, informatization and agro-technique promotion. The fourth one is to promote the development of modern agriculture and regional new-type urbanization, and enhance reclamation-and-cultivation cooperation. The fifth one is to make the land reclamation play a leading role in foreign cooperation, and make overall plans for regional development. The sixth one is to enhance the construction of farms in weak areas, especially in border areas, impoverished farms and farms with fragile ecological environment.

The fifth part has four articles, which strengthened the guidance on reform and development in land reclamation. It called for the leading role of the Party, and the central role of the party organizations. It called on all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities to make specific action plans, and related organizations to provide active support. It stressed that the management agencies in land reclamation shod transfer their functions enhance capacity building and executed their duties. The leaders and workers should carry forward the spirits of land reclamation pioneer an enterprise with painstaking efforts, dare to blaze new trails and devote themselves to the development and reform of land reclamation.

New breakthroughs

The first breakthrough is in the aspect of ideology and theory. The opinion made breakthrough in understanding the special status and functions of land reclamation in national overall strategies. It pointed out that land reclamation is an indispensable and important part of agriculture and economy systems with China’s characteristics, the backbone and representatives of state-owned agricultural economy, and the important forces that promote the agricultural modernization with China’s characteristics. In agriculture and rural areas, China needs not only rural collective economy, peasant household family economy and farmers’ cooperatives, but also stale-owned economy. Land reclamation in new era should become the national team that could safeguard national grain security and efficient supply of major agro-products, the demonstration areas for new agricultural modernization with China’s characteristics, the pacesetters for foreign cooperation in agriculture and the stabilizer for safeguarding stability in border areas. The new strategic roles of land reclamation were proposed under new circumstance and new tasks. It is a major proposition that concerns the agricultural economic system with China’s features, and gives answers on what is land reclamation and what does the industry do, laying a solid theory foundation for reclamation reform in new age.

The second breakthrough is in the aspect of reform. The opinion regarded a smooth relation as a core between government and enterprises, society and enterprises, as well as politics and capitals, making practical breakthrough in reform on management system in reclamation areas, farm operation systems and state-owned capital systems. The opinion insisted on the guidance of upholding the socialist market, and proposed that the country should work under the mainline of conglomeration of reclamation areas and enterprization of farms, pointing out a direction for reform and development. The opinion expounded the guiding theory, principles, objectives, and measures in depth, and answered questions such as how to reform on reclamation areas and farms, and how to deal with the system of employees, capitals, and land management in seven aspects. Meanwhile, considering the real conditions of reclamation areas, it proposed some transition methods, such as the management system featuring one agency with two brands, authorization delegation, and purchase services.

The third breakthrough is in the aspect of polices. The opinion proposed to make supporting policies on land reclamation reform and development with a lot of outstanding features. For example, it put forward all important plans and programs should consider the development of land reclamation, and make sure it workable. It also stressed a full coverage of policies of supporting and benefiting farmers and improving the livelihood of farmers. As for the lack of investment, it innovated the capital operation model and the way of financial capital investment, setting up pilot bases on the restructuring and construction of state-owned capitals, investment and companies, as well as establishing a stock equity fund for China’s land reclamation development. As for weak capital values of land resources, it proposed to build pilot bases on mortgage and guarantee of the use right of state-owned farmland, and allowed to transfer the rights of state-owned land to others by selling, investment, and authorized operation.


Generally, the document analyzed the development conditions of China’s land reclamation, pointed out the current difficulties and problems, and confirmed the strategies and reform direction. It also proposed the overall ideas, objectives, tasks and related policies of the reform. It is a framework document in the new era of reform and development in land reclamation, which acted as a epoch-making milestone in the industry.


The Central Committee of the Communist Party and the State Council << the opinion on promoting reform on land reclamation>>


Date submitted: Nov. 1, 2017

Reviewed, edited and uploaded: Dec. 27, 2017



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