China’s land use: 103 million hectares of farmland protected by “red line”

“The central government has attached great importance to the protection of farmland and we will implement the strictest policies to prevent farmland from being illegally used for other purposes”

China’s Ministry of Natural Resources has released details of dozens of typical land-use supervision cases last year, underlining its firm resolve to protect the country’s farmland and ensure food security.

Combine harvesters bring in a crop of red sorghum at a farm in Nenjiang, Heilongjiang province, in October. WU SHUJIANG/FOR CHINA DAILY

The cases, listed in a notification revealed on Tuesday, covered a wide range of problems, including the illegal use of farmland, the illegal approval of land-use certificates, the unreported use of land for construction, and the absence of local government supervision or regulation.

The cases were found either through supervision by the ministry or public reports received last year, said Cui Ying, director of the ministry’s law enforcement bureau.

“The central government has attached great importance to the protection of farmland and we will implement the strictest policies to prevent farmland from being illegally used for other purposes,” she said.

Cui said the notification showed the resolute attitude of the ministry.

“Without approval through the legal process, any use of farmland will not be allowed, even for the purpose of infrastructure construction,” she said.

One case in Qian’an, Hebei province, involved the concealment of the illegal use of 461 hectares of farmland for construction projects.

The natural resources departments in some cities were singled out in the notification for dereliction of duty, with the department in Gaoping, Shanxi province, found to have forged papers to allow the illegal use of farmland.

“Some government sectors broke the rules and played tricks to avoid being held accountable,” Cui said. “Such activities seriously disrupted our management system and should be named in public as an alert to prevent similar cases from happening.”

At a news conference on Tuesday, the ministry’s senior supervision official explained what will happen next in the crackdown on the illegal use of land, especially farmland.

“The cities or counties listed in the notification will be supervised by the provincial government to conduct rectification in a timely manner,” said He Zhihua, deputy director of the ministry’s general supervision office.

He said a new round of supervision of land-use issues that is making use of satellite monitoring is ongoing.

“We will make joint efforts with law enforcement departments to further enhance our capacity to crack down on those illegal activities that may threaten land safety,” he said.

China is establishing a national territory planning system guided by three “red lines”. The line designating permanent farmland-about 103 million hectares-aims to bolster safety, improve quality and prevent farmland from being used for other purposes.

Source: Yang Wanli | CHINA DAILY: 2021-08-25 https://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202108/25/WS6125982aa310efa1bd66ae9b.html