Friday, October 23, 2020

China exodus to cities leaves abandoned elderly at the mercy of shady officials

Whole villages are seized and razed, with elderly farmers unable to protect their homes.

Other News

Bekas setiausaha politik Mat Sabu didakwa rasuah lagi

Pada 15 Oktober lepas, Azhar didakwa di Mahkamah Sesyen Kuala Lumpur atas lima pertuduhan meminta dan menerima rasuah berjumlah RM6.35 juta.

No noise, please, let govt walk the lives-livelihoods tightrope

Critics of the government's work from home order should understand that its hands are full battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Muhyiddin pengerusikan mesyuarat khas Kabinet

Mesyuarat dijangka bermula pada pukul 9.30 pagi.

Muhyiddin chairs special Cabinet meeting

The prime minister arrived at Perdana Putra in Putrajaya just before 9am.

Darurat dipertimbang selepas rayuan ‘beremosi’ pegawai atasan untuk kestablian politik ketika kematian Covid-19 meningkat

Darurat itu akan menggantung semua proses politik tetapi kehidupan harian berjalan seperti biasa.

In China over the past 30 years, tens of millions of young country folk have migrated to the country’s megacities to work.

They leave behind their elderly parents and grandparents to care for their children. As the exodus gathers pace, empty houses decay, schools close, and local shops go out of business.

In a bid to find a solution, many provinces have been emptying and demolishing underpopulated villages and building new towns to house displaced residents in a scheme known as “village consolidation”, the Economist reports.

The bonus for the authorities is that the freed-up land can then be turned into arable cropland. This is desperately needed in China, which has 20% of the world’s population but less than 10% of its arable land.

By creating alternative arable land, local governments can sell greenfield sites near cities to developers without reducing their province’s stock of farmland, which is strictly limited by central government. Profits are substantial and often difficult to trace.

The farmers are powerless to protect their villages from rapacious officials. If they refuse to leave, the local bureaucrats arrive with their enforcers. Reports of beatings are common, and even petrol bombs have been thrown into homes.

Last year Shandong province launched a “village consolidation” programme, leading to mass protests by villagers and outrage in the state-controlled press. China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has long insisted that the “rural revival” must not involve “mass demolition and mass building”, but corrupt local officials know the planning processes will be murky and profits will be huge.

In China, if an official decides a villager must move, he has no choice.

Another problem for farmers is that the Communist Party calls rural villages “collectively owned”. Shady officials interpret that as meaning they can seize whole villages when they like and kick the elderly inhabitants out, whether they have a completed “consolidated village” to go to or not.

Many are calling for villagers to be given clear rights to their homes and then be allowed to sell them freely, as city dwellers have been allowed to do since the 1990s.

Local governments could then buy them legally if they wish, at a price fairly negotiated with the owners.

The law should protect the weak from powerful men with big bulldozers, not vice versa.

 

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news and analyses.

Related Articles

Bekas pengumpul dana Trump mengaku bersalah melobi gugurkan siasatan 1MDB

Beliau menerima berjuta-juta dollar untuk melobi pentadbiran Trump.

China’s super rich got US$1.5 trillion richer during pandemic, report says

This year's list shows China was 'moving away from traditional sectors like manufacturing and real estate, towards the new economy'.

US$60 experimental vaccine rolled out in east Chinese city

China is desperate to win the global race for a vaccine against the virus which emerged in the central city of Wuhan.

Australia to boost Southeast Asian aid to counter China’s Mekong influence

China dwarfs both Australia and the US in infrastructure financing in Southeast Asia.

UN elects ‘human rights abusers’ to Human Rights Council

The UNHRC has long drawn criticism for hypocrisy.