Previous attempts at passing laws to help farmers have done little for Tang Youmin, and he is not optimistic that this time will be any different. Decades of simmering anger towards the central government have left Mr Tang jaded. The 69-year-old spends his days pruning walnut trees on his land in Changlin, a village near the Ming Tombs north of Beijing. 'There's no way things will ever get better,' Mr Tang said. He suspects there is corruption among village committee leaders who sell farmland to developers but do not always share the proceeds. 'In China we may be living better and are better off, but in people's hearts there is no change,' he said. When the commune system ended in 1983, Mr Tang was told he needed to have farmed for 30 years to get a land contract. But after 41 years of farming, the promised contract has not been offered. That means village leaders can do as they wish with the land. The villagers once farmed about 100 mu (one mu is 795 sq metres), he said, but the leaders have sold 80 mu, mostly to developers. The Changlin area is rich in potential for golf courses and housing subdivisions. A golf course is under construction on the shores of Shisanling reservoir next to the village. Mr Tang said that without a contract he had no way of stopping his farmland being reduced. He said the village cadres had not given him a share of proceeds from the land sale. For their part, local officials around China say they are selling the land to raise money to modernise agriculture and pay for improvements to infrastructure, such as new roads. The money, they say, is being used by the government to help everyone in the communities. But the farmers are sceptical. Mr Tang has written complaint letters to village, town and city government offices but received no replies. Legal analysts say farmers must understand the new contract law to protect themselves. They suggest examining Article 34, which explains that farmers, not rural collectives, must decide to sell land. But farmer Guan Lai'an, 60, said China's laws were too complicated. He has given up after seeking help to have the laws explained. 'Deng Xiaoping admitted the farmers were in a messed-up situation,' he said. Mr Guan said village leaders had sold 'national collective' farmland to a golf course developer, leaving him about one mu. He said the leaders had put the proceeds of the sale in a bank, but did not give any to the farmers. 'Clearly we were cheated,' he said. He now farms the one mu just to get exercise and grow enough fruit to stay financially independent of his three sons, who have their own job struggles in the city. 'They auction your land, sell it to someone else for 10,000 yuan (HK$9,400). I haven't seen any money,' Mr Guan said. 'This land is mine. Where's the law? The law is not stable. 'They sign contracts but without a time limit - 20 or 30 years - it's unclear. It doesn't follow laws.'