Betterment and Compensation in China
Chapter 5: Urban land reform and the evolution of the land market in China
In ancient China, where an agriculture-based economy was dominant, land management was always a political rather than an economic issue, and most land was controlled by a powerful landed class. One of the interesting phenomena that can be observed from the evolution of land management is that when new dynasties came to power, there was an attempt to reintroduce a public land ownership system, but once a dynasty had become established, state-allocated land tended to return to private hands by one means or another (Li, 1998). Throughout history, however, land belonged to the emperor and was allocated to members of the royal family and ministers who showed loyalty to the emperor or contributed to the empire under the feudal society. ‘Over the nation, there are only Crown lands; over the land, there are only subjects of the King’ was the famous cry of the ruling class. The 1911 revolution changed China from a monarchy to a republic, but land concentration remained almost unchanged. President Sun Yet Sen proposed the idea of ‘equalization of land rights’ in order to promote equity in the land market.