1st Edition

China's Disappearing Countryside
Towards Sustainable Land Governance for the Poor

ISBN 9781138277236
Published November 28, 2016 by Routledge
174 Pages

USD $59.95

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Book Description

While China’s hybrid rural land tenure system has contributed to agricultural development, it is interwoven with rising farmland loss and social conflicts.This book examines the linkages between land tenure, development and governance in the context of China’s development transformation. Drawing on empirical studies, it advocates the exploration of innovative land tenure systems that address the wider determinants: institutions, power, politics and social development. It argues that a land tenure system can only be sustainable when it is compatible with the overall biophysical, social, political and economic conditions. This new institutional lens into the conditions and dynamics of land tenure systems marks a paradigm shift away from those focusing on the narrow meaning of land rights and tenure security strengthening, as these approaches can paradoxically contribute to weaker land and resource governance. Contributing to an enhanced understanding of the challenges China faces in agricultural development and natural resource governance and to the international debates on land tenure reform, this book will be of interest to researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and students in development studies, anthropology, sociology, political sciences, law, geography, economics, public administration and other relevant disciplines. The lessons learnt from China also shed light on its global engagement on sustainable development and governance issues.



Yongjun Zhao is Assistant Professor of Globalization Studies and Humanitarian Action, Globalization Studies Groningen, Faculty of Arts, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


'Yongjun Zhao makes an important contribution to a growing English-language literature on land reform in China. Readers will come away with a much clearer understanding of the complexity of the issue and why land reform cannot be viewed simply as a means of creating new institutions or laws directed at modernizing agriculture.' AAG Review of Books ’This book makes an important and timely contribution to contemporary debates on pro-poor land reform, local governance and community-based land tenure. It demonstrates the linkages between land tenure and wider concerns over poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, political stability, and social cohesion and develops a holistic understanding of land tenure systems in China today, their history, problems, and potential to contribute to poverty alleviation.’ Thomas Sikor, University of East Anglia, UK ’This book provides a lens into a multilayered crisis faced by China’s peasant households. Zhao shows how the confluence of policy, growing markets, lack of representation, illegal expropriations and distant opportunities shape peasant attachment to and departures from the land. The book provides a wonderful primer for anyone studying land tenure, poverty and governance struggles in present-day rural China.’ Jesse Ribot, University of Illinois, USA '... the book examines interesting local institutional innovations on land tenure and makes a timely contribution to the understanding of the complex land property rights system, a topic of great importance and yet under researched. ... a good introduction for anyone working on land tenure, rural governance, and poverty alleviation in contemporary China.' Journal of Chinese Political Science