Six years ago, the Chinese government declared its intention to reform the rural land system and turn villagers’ lands (both farm and nonfarm lands) into marketable assets. Dubbed the “new land reform,” the announcement caused a flurry of modifications on rural land institutions. Fierce debates on how far the government should push villagers to transfer land rights have followed, and the recent trend again shows ambiguities and uncertainties. Will the new land reform succeed? This seminar assesses the key debates on China’s rural land and examines the contradictions between policy goals and between land-related interests. It explains how the prospect of the land reform will depend on a variety of factors such as food security, urban labour markets, central-local relations, and agrarian and urban capital.
About the Speaker
Shaohua Zhan is assistant professor of sociology at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He was a recipient of the Henry Luce/ACLS postdoctoral fellowship in China Studies in 2014. His research interests include land politics, food security, migration, and economic development. His articles have appeared in a number of top-ranked journals. He is the author of The Land Question in China: Agrarian Capitalism, Industrious Revolution, and East Asian Development (Routledge, 2019). He is working on two research projects. One examines food politics in China and its interconnections with international food trade, overseas agricultural investments, and global food security. The other compares Chinese and Indian Immigrants in Singapore, Los Angeles and Vancouver.