China is poised to announce a sweeping reform that would allow rural farmers to sell land use rights, the New York Times reports. Communist Party officials, meeting this weekend, hope the move will reignite double-digit economic growth and stave off looming recession. It could also curb the thousands of riots in rural areas every year, sparked by corruption allegations and illegal land takeovers.
"I’d say this is a great positive,” said one advocate for China's rural poor. “It’ll free up the dead capital and allow all this wealth to materialize.” But the policy change, expected to be announced tomorrow, would not let farmers own land; town and village leaders will still control 30-year land use contracts. President Hu Jintao hinted at the plan recently, saying farmers may be allowed to “develop management on an appropriate scale.”