Inaugural Kravis Prize winner Roy Prosterman founded Landesa to put to work his expertise on land reform, rural development and foreign aid and to enact change in the world including China, where more than 4 million rural Chinese lose their land due to government takings every year. Not only do these land grievances violate property rights, they also accounted for two-thirds of the 187,000 reported mass protests and riots in China in 2010! With such a large rate of incidence and a link to rebellion, it is no wonder that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the country needs to adopt land reforms. Landesa also recently conducted a field study that examined farmers’ land rights in more than 1,700 villages in 17 provinces in China, which revealed some implications of the current state of land laws.

On March 6, 2012, Prosterman and Landesa attorney Zhu Keliang presented the findings of the study at a talk hosted by the National Committee on the U.S.-China Relations. The presentation covered the reasons for the loss of land and incentives for farmers to make long-term investments in land, examined the challenges in developing a more equitable approach to urbanization, rural revitalization and stability and provided recommendations on how to ensure secure land rights for hundreds of millions of small farmers and eventually turn them into middle-class consumers and market participants. Prosterman discussed the effect of the land takings on the population:

“The dissatisfied farmers outnumber the satisfied ones more than two to one. And indeed, more than one out of six, 17 percent of the affected farmers who have experienced a taking report themselves as extremely dissatisfied. These land grievances … are a key cause of the mass incidence that [has] occurred.”

Watch the presentation below!