Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rumor mill update

Looks like The Australian went 0-for-2 in the stories mentioned in Sunday's rumor mill post.

First, Monday came and went with no big announcement out of North Korea. That nation's diplomats were said to be on standby for a "major announcement" from the country's leadership. There was a lot of speculation that the announcement would be the death of leader Kim Jong-Il, but nothing happened. So what's going on in North Korea (if anything) remains a mystery.

As for the other story, China has in fact gone through with its epic land reform program.

The Communist government announced that they were moving ahead with a scheme to give peasant farmers control over their land. Right now, rural farmers sign 30-year leases for their land with large collective farms run by the Communist Party. The new plan will let farmers buy and sell these leases.

It's expected that the new scheme will both improve the efficiency of farmland in China and double the incomes of rural residents. While cities like Beijing and Shanghai have become the showpieces of a new, affluent China, around 700,000,000 of the country's residents still live on rural farms in deep poverty. The growing divide between the emerging middle class in the cities and the rural poor is one of the government's major concerns and one they hope the land reforms will help to cure.
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