China’s Urbanization and the World Economy
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China’s Urbanization and the World Economy

Fan Zhang

This innovative book places China’s urbanization within a broader global context, including a detailed estimate of China’s total domestic market and its impact on the world economy.
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Chapter 5: Land and local government finance

Fan Zhang


Land is a scarce resource in China, in comparison to the abundant labor supply. Rapid urban spatial expansion demands large amount of land. The urban built-up areas increased from 12 856 sq km in 1990 to 40 058 sq km in 2010, with a 5.8 percent increase annually (Table 5.1). The per capita floor space of residential building in urban areas reached 32.7 sq m in 2011 (National Bureau of Statistics 2011a, pp.378, 379). There had been no specific terms about the ownership of land in China's Constitution until 1982. Land ownership is not clearly defined, nor is it fully protected by law in China today. According to the 1982 version of China's Constitution (1982 version, Chapter I, Article 10): Land in the cities is owned by the state. Land in the rural and suburban areas is owned by collectives except for those portions which belong to the state in accordance with the law; house sites and privately farmed plots of cropland and hilly land are also owned by collectives. The state may, in the public interest, requisition land for its use in accordance with the law. No organization or individual may appropriate, buy, sell or lease land or otherwise engage in the transfer of land by unlawful means. (National People's Congress 1982) Until very recently, only the government could transfer rural land into urban land by requisition.

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