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The cultivated area continues to shrink
According to a communiqué issued by the Ministry of Land and Resources in May 2004, China in 2003 had 123.4 million hectares of cultivated land, 11.1 million hectares of gardens, 234 million hectares of forest land, 263.1 million hectares of grassland, 25.5083 million hectares of land for other agricultural uses, 25.3542 million hectares of land for residential, industrial and mining uses, 2.1 million hectares of land for communication and transportation uses and 3.5653 million hectares of land for water conservancy facilities. The rest was unused land. In comparison with 2002, cultivated land was reported to have shrunk by 2%, while gardens increased by 2.7%, grassland decreased by 0.2%, land for residential, industrial and mining uses grew by 1% and land for communications and transport use increased by 3.3% in 2003.
The net reduction of cultivated land in 2003 was 2.5 million hectares, and the per capita cultivated land decreased from 0.098 hectares in 2002 to 0.095 hectares. A total of 2.2 million hectares of cultivated land were recovered for ecological preservation, of which 2.1 million hectares of cultivated land were returned to forest, 119,500 hectares to grass and 900 hectares to lakes. The main factor for the shrinkage of cultivated land was the recovery of cultivated land for ecological purpose.
There are an estimated 7,343,300 hectares of reserve arable land resources, of which 5,475,300 hectares are in the western region, 654,000 hectares in the central region and 1,214,000 hectares in the eastern region.
Land used for construction increased by 427,800 hectares. Cultivated land used for non-agricultural purposes reached 229,100 hectares, increasing by 32,700 hectares (17%) compared with 2002, of which 111,700 hectares of cultivated land were used for industrial and mining purposes, increasing by 30,000 hectares (37%); and 37,700 hectares of cultivated land were used for highway construction, increasing by 7,600 hectares (25%).
As a result of agricultural restructuring, cultivated land decreased by 364,100 hectares and increased by 32,800 hectares respectively, with a net decrease of 331,300 hectares of cultivated land, increasing by 62,700 hectares compared with 2002. 50,400 hectares of cultivated land were destroyed by natural hazards in 2003, which was lower than the average level of the previous years.
In order to compensate for the encroachment resulting from urban expansion, as policy of "adding cultivated land first and then occupying” was implemented for urban construction. A total of 310,800 hectares of cultivated land were added through land consolidation, reclamation and development, of which 64,400 hectares of cultivated land were added by land consolidation, 32,500 hectares were added by reclamation of abandoned land, and 213,900 hectares were added by land development. The area of added cultivated land was 31,300 hectares more than that of the cultivated land used for construction and destroyed by natural hazards. There were 26 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government) where the area of added cultivated land was larger than that used for construction.
In 2001-2003, the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) implemented, with the government investment, a total of 731 projects of land consolidation, reclamation and development with 473,900 hectares of area in total, of which there were 314,300 hectares of consolidated land, 40,100 hectares of reclaimed land and 119,500 hectares of developed land. The area of added land was 171,700 hectares.
Major projects in progress or in the pipeline involving further encroachment on cultivated land include: the Three Gorges project, which is submerging a large area of land in its reservoir area; the construction of a natural gas pipeline from Shaanxi Province in North-West China to Shanghai; the building of electricity transmission facilities in Guangdong, Hubei and other provinces for transmitting electricity from the west to the east; the construction of the Qinghai section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway; and the development of a massive south-to-north water diversion project.
Further departure from self-sufficiency in mineral resources
The first stage of the Dongfang 1-1 offshore gas field came into operation in 2003. China’s total production of coal was over 1,600 million tonnes, pig iron over 200 million tonnes and 10 nonferrous metals over 12 million tonnes. The production of crude oil of the Daqing Oilfield decreased to 48.4 million tonnes after it had kept producing 50 million tonnes of crude oil annually for 27 consecutive years.
China’s total import and export volume of minerals exceeded Rmb160 billion(US$19.3 billion), as the trade deficit in minerals. increased further In 2003 China imported 91.1 million tonnes of crude oil, 148.1 million tonnes of iron ore, 2.9 million tonnes of manganese ore, 1.8 million tonnes of chromite ore, 2.7 million tonnes of copper ore and 6.6 million tonnes of potash fertiliser.
A total of 108 foreign investment-related exploration licences and 322 mining licences were issued in 2003. Canadian TVI Pacific Inc established the first exclusive foreign-owned exploration company in Changning City of Hunan Province. Canadian Southeast Resources Company discovered a relatively large, high-grade gold deposit in Tuobuka, Dongchuan, Yunnan Province in cooperation with the Yunnan Nuclear Industrial 209 Geological Party.
The Chinese government continued to encourage what it calls a “going global” strategy for mineral exploration and exploitation. The China National Oil/Gas Croup Corp. discovered a world-class large oil field in Sudan. The China National Petrochemical Corp. drilled a high-yield oil-gas well in Kashan, Iran.