China’s Urban Century
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China’s Urban Century

Governance, Environment and Socio-Economic Imperatives

Edited by François Gipouloux

The achievements of China’s urbanization should not be evaluated solely in terms of adequate infrastructures, but also in their ability to implement sound governance practices to ensure social, environmental and economic development. This book addresses several key challenges faced by Chinese cities, based on the most recent policies and experiments adopted by central and local governments. The contributors offer an interdisciplinary analysis of the urbanization process in China, and examine the following key topics: the institutional foundations of Chinese cities, the legal status of the land, the rural to urban migration, the preservation of the urban heritage and the creation of urban community, and the competitiveness of Chinese cities. They define the current issues and challenges emerging from China’s urbanization.
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Chapter 4: Public ownership of land and urbanization in China

Athar Hussain and Gong Wei


This chapter deals with public ownership of land in China, its unusual division between state and collective ownership and how this division is working in practice. This analysis is conducted in the context of urbanization, which has a physical and a demographic aspect. The focus of this chapter is on the physical aspect, consisting of the expansion of the area covered by towns and cities, and the redevelopment of existing urban areas. Both these processes imply a change in the land-use pattern and involve transactions in land. This brings into play ownership rights and the holders of those rights, and these are directly determined by the state/ collective division. The chapter is divided into six sections. The first reviews the general aspects of the public ownership of land and the role it has played in influencing the institutional organization of the economy. This section also covers changes in this role during the successive reorganizations of the economy since the foundation of the PRC. The second section deals with the division of public ownership into ‘state’ and ‘collective’: the important role that this division plays is almost specific to China. This section goes into detail regarding the geographical separation of the two forms of ownership, the identity of institutions which exercise ownership rights in the two cases, and the respective patterns of transactions in land.

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