Making Capitalism in Rural China
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Making Capitalism in Rural China

Michael Webber

This stimulating and challenging book explores the duplicitous nature of development in China. On the positive side, it brings longer and healthier lives; fewer children dead before they are five years old; more comfort and security from famine and disaster; more education; more communication; more travel; less war. But from another, darker perspective, development brings violence to some people – those who are in the way of the new things, those who cannot adapt to the new ways – and it threatens old knowledges, habits and societies as it disrupts old power structures.
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Chapter 3: Buying Out Collectives and Farms

Michael Webber


1 Sunan is southern Jiangsu, west-northwest of Shanghai. Suzhou, one of Sunan’s municipalities, is 100 km from downtown Shanghai, or 24 minutes by the new G-train service (see Figure 3.1). At Suzhou, a bus or cab can take you southwest towards the township of Mudu in 15 or 20 minutes. An old town containing pleasant landscaped gardens, Mudu is a prosperous and rapidly growing Chinese town of undistinguished apartment blocks, suburban shopping malls and industrial parks that was home to 55 000 local residents (and about half as many again migrants) in 2003. Adjacent to the southwestern boundary of Mudu is the village of Xie (谢村). Or, rather, it was – for Xie has been merged with two adjacent villages to form a new, larger village; and Mudu is no longer a town but has become part of the urban area of Suzhou. In 2003 Xie combined traditional village houses with newer, flamboyantly large, delta-style twostorey houses, bounded by an industrial park that spilled over from Mudu. But it was a village: the road was uneven, narrow and dusty; the bus was a Figure 3.1 Location of places referred to in Chapter 3 43 M2819 - WEBBER TEXT.indd 43 20/12/2011 08:38 44 Making capitalism in rural China dirty, crowded 25-seater; the households had vegetable gardens and some grew rice; there were a few dairying, shrimp, crab and mushroom raising activities; and the residents had rural hukou.2 It was home to 2700 people, a third of them migrants. In the 1980s and...

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