Down on the Farm; A Rural Crisis Is Forcing Beijing to Reconsider the Idea of Private Property
Byline: Melinda Liu and Jonathan Ansfield
The minutes of the March 4 meeting--ostensibly convened by Communist Party policy advisers to discuss economic reforms and rural poverty--were supposed to be secret. But last month they leaked out on the Web, and ideological sparks have been flying ever since. What started out as a discussion by officials, economists and legal experts about deadlocked legislation on property rights has morphed into a fierce debate about the future of reform in China. Its outcome could determine how--and whether--Beijing will manage to bridge the widening gulf between the country's haves and have-nots. And its intensity is a gauge of how alarming that income gap--in large part an urban versus rural divide--has become.
When Deng Xiaoping began introducing market reforms nearly three decades ago, his aides quickly broke up rural "people's communes" into family farms, triggering a dramatic rise in peasant incomes. Today, however, the small farmers who make up the majority of China's population (849 million out of 1.3 billion people) are suffering. Last year rural per capita income was about $400 while the average city dweller's income …
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Publication information: Article title: Down on the Farm; A Rural Crisis Is Forcing Beijing to Reconsider the Idea of Private Property. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: Newsweek International. Publication date: May 15, 2006. Page number: Not available. © 2009 Newsweek, Inc. All rights reserved. Any reuse, distribution or alteration without express written permission of Newsweek is prohibited. For permission: www.newsweek.com. COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group.
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