2009: PRC Newsmagazine Lauds KMT Agricultural Reforms on Taiwan

 

The February 9, 2009 issue of China Newsweekly Zhongguo Xinwen Zhou  中国新闻周 ran an admiring article about the KMT’s successful land reform in Taiwan “Land to the Tillers” Taiwan Style Now the Farmers are Some of the Most Prosperous People in Taiwan Society”   “耕者有其田”的台湾版本:现在最富的是农民”   . The article appeared also on the website of the China News Service,  the “other press agency” aimed mostly at the Chinese language press in foreign countries and so tends to be a bit more open in their views and criticisms that the Xinhua Press Agency.

The magazine allowed Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Professor and peasant migrant worker/agricultural issue researcher Yu Jianrong 于建嵘 draw the moral of the story.  Yu restated a point he makes repeatedly in his articles: the important of peasant rights and strong local peasant agricultural organizations to protect them. (I translated the last few paragraphs below.

“Agricultural societies in Taiwan are composed to two kinds of people,” said Yu Jianrong, a researcher in the Rural Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the report of “China Newsweekly”. “When they hold their meetings, they are all straight dealing farmers. The second type are the managers of the agricultural society.  They wear business suits, they are people hired by the board of the agricultural society. They are hired after meeting certain qualifications and passing certain tests, just like civil servants in China.”

Scholars have pointed out that one of the consequences of land reform in Taiwan was that farmers who owned their own land became the most important force in rural society.

Taiwan agricultural societies also served as rural credit cooperatives. When the farmers had a financial crisis, the agricultural society would guarantee a loan for them. In this way farmers could avoid bankruptcy. Another important task assumed by the Taiwan agricultural society was to help farmers sell their produce.  Not long ago, Taiwan fruit started to appear in mainland China markets.  Behind this phenomenon were Taiwan agricultural societies.

While Yu Jianrong believes the agricultural societies do important work in helping farmers through financial difficulties, even more important is ensuring that farmers do not have to sell their land is that it protects the independence of farmers. “Once a member of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council took me on a trip, saying “Today the richest people in Taiwan are farmers. Their families own land and the land is worth a lot of money.” He gestured saying, look at that land it is worth millions. Farmers sell land rationally. They know they should sell this plot of land and not that plot of land and what they should do after they sell it. There is no need for the authorities to intervene, they can make the adjustments that are needed on their own.”

That farmers could become the richest people in society, that is something that the Taiwan farmer Chen Wen never dreamed of while he was plowing and sowing his fields.

A Tibetan Autonomous Region Foreign Affairs Office minder in Tibet told me during a November 2008 visit to the TAR that the accomplishments of the KMT in Taiwan are getting more attention now in China. This article also makes me recall a 2008 dinner I attended with a few businesspeople in a restaurant. I observed to the small group that although Chinese want to learn from America, I often think it would make more sense in many cases for Chinese to learn from Taiwan. Taiwan has absorbed many lessons from the West and adjusted western practice to Chinese culture and have assimilated them to their own society, government and legal system.

One of the businessmen, a Communist Party member,  looked at the others looked at the ceiling and the walls of the restaurant and said to me in a whisper, “We all know that, but we can’t say so.”

I wonder if it might be becoming more possible to admit learning from Taiwan. Certainly many businesspeople have been doing this for years. Some dangers in doing this though. A Kunming intellectual told me in 2008 that if the KMT competed in a Kunming City election they’d win by a landslide.

While many people in Taiwan have gotten rich by selling their lands, it depends on how close to the city they are. Many of Taiwan farmers are older, retired (like my father-in-law) and their children don’t want to be farmers. Taiwan government subsidies have helped poorer farmers in rural areas upgrade their housing etc.

Still, the role of free agricultural societies has been important and could be a model for China. Yu Jianrong has in several articles pointed to the important role pre 1949 agricultural societies played in China. Some of Yu’s articles are collected here — http://www.tecn.cn/homepage/yujianrong.htm

I remember reading that Ramon Meyers in his research found that China actually had quite a few independent farmers in the 1930s. So then at least in some areas, the story of big landlord oppressing the poor peasants may have been exaggerated for post 1949 political purposes. That dangerous point is implied in Yu Jianrong’s argument about pre 1949 agricultural cooperatives. He isn’t talking about landlord cabals…

“今天台湾的农会实际上有两种人。”中国社科院农村发展研究所研究员于建嵘告诉《中国新闻周刊》记者。“开理事会的时候,全部都是老实巴交的农民。而第二种人是农会的干事们,西装革履,那是理事会聘用的人员,他们来应聘首先要通过相应的资格考试,就像是我们这边考公务员一样。”

有学者指出,台湾土改的相应后果之一,就是自耕农成为农村社会的中坚力量。

台湾农会实际在农村扮演了农村信用社的角色。当农民发生经济危机时,农会出面担保帮他贷款,这样使得农民不至于走到破产卖地的境地。农会做的另一件主要工作是帮助农民推销产品。前不久台湾的水果登陆大陆市场,背后的操作者实际就是台湾农会。

然而,于建嵘认为农会虽然可以帮助农民克服经济困难,但使得农民不随意卖地的更重要因素,是给农民独立的权利。“一次一个台湾陆委会官员陪我在下面走时,告诉我:现在台湾最富的是农民,家里有地,地很值钱。他指着前面说,你看那块地,值上千万呢。农民卖地是相对理性的,他知道哪块地能卖哪块不能卖,卖了以后怎么办。只要不用权力去兼并,他们本身有自我调节功能。”

农民可以成为社会中最富的人,这恐怕是1940年代末手扶犁耙播种胡麻的台中农民陈文想也想不到的.

Full text below and at http://www.chinanews.com.cn/tw/kong/news/2009/02-14/1563047.shtml

“耕者有其田”的台湾版本:现在最富的是农民(2)
2009年02月14日 00:33 来源:中国新闻网 发表评论  【字体:↑大 ↓小】
一般而论,人们都把台湾土改分为三个阶段:“三七五”减租;公地放领;耕者有其田。

所谓“三七五”减租,即国民党原来在大陆搞过却没搞下去的“二五减租”:农民向地主交纳的地租额统一按土地全年收获物的50%计算,在此基础上再减去25%,公式为:50%×(1-25%),就得出37.5%。也就是说,地主收取的地租,最多不能超过全年产量的37.5%,而且,双方必须签订租约,地主不许任意撤佃。

陈诚当时除了任台湾省“主席”,还兼任警备总司令,他的土改政令是以武力为后盾的。他下令:对反抗的地主,抓送警备司令部以军法审判。他在台中视察时讲了一句很著名的话:“我相信困难是有的。调皮捣蛋不要脸皮的人也许有,但是我相信,不要命的人总不会有。”此话一出,形势立刻大变,刚刚经历过“二二八”的台湾地主们哪敢反抗?一位大地主一下子刻了20枚私章,只为与各处佃农签约时更快捷,地主们简直是求着农民来签约减租,原来以为几个月才能完成的签约换约,一个月就全部完成了。

获得减租的农民,生活水平马上就有了显著改善,忙着娶媳妇、买耕牛,在那几年,“三七五新娘”“三七五耕牛”“三七五脚踏车”蔚然成风。

接下来,从1951年开始土改的第二阶段:公地放领。5月30日,台湾“立法院”通过《台湾省公地放领扶植自耕农实施办法》并于6月4日正式实施,办法规定:租用公地的农民,每年的租额为产量的25%,连续交上10年,这块地就归农民自己了。

为保证土地不被倒卖,办法还规定,租公地者无力耕种时须由当局以原价收回,不得将土地转移他用。

据统计,1951年至1976年,台湾当局先后分9批共出售了13.9万公顷公地,给28.6万农户。

台湾土改的第3阶段“耕者有其田”是从1953年开始的。在此之前1年,台湾当局先重新丈量了台湾地主的全部耕地。1953年1月,“立法院”通过《耕者有其田法》,4月,台湾行政当局颁布《实施耕者有其田法条例》,规定:凡私有出租耕地,地主可保留相当于中等水田3甲(每甲约等于1公顷)或旱田6甲,超过土地一律由当局征收,由现在在此田上耕作的农民受领。

政府把地主的田拿走,是要付赎金的。当局补偿地主的地价,其标准定为征收耕地上全年作物收获量的2.5倍。补偿的形式分两种:土地债券占7成,公营事业股票3成,搭配补偿。

而农民们得到原来地主的土地,耕作满10年,都交清了租额,土地就归农民自己了。

不是所有的地主都能适应这种转变,不少中小地主因此破了产。他们在事隔半个世纪后,在已经实现了言论自由的台湾发出不满之声,要求重新补偿,那是另话。但也确实有不少地主成功实现转型,如海基会前董事长辜振甫,原是鹿港的大地主,土改后成为“台湾水泥”董事长,便是最著名的一例。

而陈诚,被台湾地主们咬牙切齿痛恨的同时,也被台湾农民们怀念。陈履安还记得,1965年他父亲去世出殡的那一天,许多人自动地跪在路的两边祭拜他。

农会崛起:自耕农成为台湾农村的中坚力量

从统计数字中,可以看到台湾土改对台湾农业生产的巨大刺激:从1953~1968年,台湾粮食产量出现了历史上少见的长达16年之久的持续增长,年平均增长达5.2%。

北京大学历史系教授杨奎松向《中国新闻周刊》指出,台湾土改对于台湾的经济起飞,奠定了非常好的基础。“台湾经济起飞还有很多其他方面的原因,有政策方面的,还有时机因素,即冷战的背景。但是经济起飞没有人才不行。他们的土改采取的不是暴力方式,充分保护了农村既有的人力和物力的资源。当局给钱给股份让地主离开土地,让农民得到土地,同时这些在农村有能力有人脉关系的人转入工商业,经过20年,社会过渡很平稳,整个经济发展起来。一直到上世纪80年代,还有非洲国家南美国家来取经。”

有许多人曾经担心,分得了土地的农民,会在不久的日子里被迫重新卖掉土地,农村再度出现两极分化。但是,台湾土改后并没有出现这种情况。杨奎松认为,除了当局对于土地流转有严格的法规外,还有一个很重要的因素,是台湾农会发挥的作用。

实际在1947年台中农民陈文诉溪湖糖厂一案的调解大会上,农民代表中就有若干人是当地各级农会的代表。台湾的农会历史悠久。第一个农会成立于1899年,是农民自行组织起来要求减租的组织。日本占领台湾以后,农会变成半官方组织,理事由地方行政部门任命,经费由政府随农业捐税附加征收,然后再拨交农会。农会多为当地权势人士、地主所把持。

台湾光复后,1949年底台湾省行政当局将农会和合作社两大系统再度合并为农会。合作社的成员中有地主和商人,所以合并后往往由这些非农民把持农会。1950年美国康乃尔大学乡村社会学教授安德生赴台考察后建议:农会会员区分为正式会员和赞助会员。农民是正式会员有选举权和被选举权,而非农民只能成为赞助会员,除了可当选监事外,没有选举权及其他被选举权。1952年台湾采纳这些建议公布了“台湾省各级农会暂行办法”,1974年,台湾的《农会法》正式颁布。这时的农会,农民必须占到三分之二以上,已经变成真正代表并维护农民利益的组织。

“今天台湾的农会实际上有两种人。”中国社科院农村发展研究所研究员于建嵘告诉《中国新闻周刊》记者。“开理事会的时候,全部都是老实巴交的农民。而第二种人是农会的干事们,西装革履,那是理事会聘用的人员,他们来应聘首先要通过相应的资格考试,就像是我们这边考公务员一样。”

有学者指出,台湾土改的相应后果之一,就是自耕农成为农村社会的中坚力量。

台湾农会实际在农村扮演了农村信用社的角色。当农民发生经济危机时,农会出面担保帮他贷款,这样使得农民不至于走到破产卖地的境地。农会做的另一件主要工作是帮助农民推销产品。前不久台湾的水果登陆大陆市场,背后的操作者实际就是台湾农会。

然而,于建嵘认为农会虽然可以帮助农民克服经济困难,但使得农民不随意卖地的更重要因素,是给农民独立的权利。“一次一个台湾陆委会官员陪我在下面走时,告诉我:现在台湾最富的是农民,家里有地,地很值钱。他指着前面说,你看那块地,值上千万呢。农民卖地是相对理性的,他知道哪块地能卖哪块不能卖,卖了以后怎么办。只要不用权力去兼并,他们本身有自我调节功能。”

农民可以成为社会中最富的人,这恐怕是1940年代末手扶犁耙播种胡麻的台中农民陈文想也想不到的。

 

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About 高大伟 David Cowhig

Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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