Handbook on Urban Development in China
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Handbook on Urban Development in China

Edited by Ray Yep, June Wang and Thomas Johnson

The trajectory and logic of urban development in post-Mao China have been shaped and defined by the contention between domestic and global capital, central and local state and social actors of different class status and endowment. This urban transformation process of historic proportion entails new rules for distribution and negotiation, novel perceptions of citizenship, as well as room for unprecedented spontaneity and creativity. Based on original research by leading experts, this book offers an updated and nuanced analysis of the new logic of urban governance and its implications.
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Chapter 14: Urban villages in China: historical and institutional perspectives

Jing Li and Li Tao


China’s rapid urbanization process has rendered a separation of land tenures in the urban area: state-owned urban land and urban villages under collective ownership. This chapter unveils the historical and institutional backdrop of this phenomenon. It is followed by an assessment of informal housing development, considering the economic efficiency with commercial and industrial land use associated with urban villages. The absence of the state in developmental controls for urban villages is considered influential in the formation of urban villages. Existing studies reveal that the institutional problems associated with urban villages include incomplete and ambiguous property rights, insecure land tenure and unequal land use rights, and the tragedy of common problem in collective land transactions. It is concluded with a reflection on the government’s role in China’s economic development and its implications for understanding the urbanization dynamics.

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