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China’s Urbanisation from Below

Village Led Land and Property Development

Ya Ping Wang and Yanglin Wang

September 2014, English

Recent academic and media attention on China’s urbanisation focuses on large-scale project based developments in cities. Urbanisation in China is however a very complex process which happens at many different levels and places, and involves very different players and communities. Apart from the government and plan led changes in cities, the country is also undergoing a process of bottom up urbanisation which is organised and led by villages and townships, especially these located in the peri-urban areas. This bottom up development has affected a significant proportion of rural residents and contributed enormously to the overall social and economic transformation in China. Different from the homogenous top down urban planning and development approach, village led urbanisation follows very different, sometime very innovative approaches that reflect different local socio-economic and cultural values. This study examines land development and residential changes in a number of villages which have achieved some forms of urbanisation. It gives particular attentions to the differences emerged in the North and the South regions; and aims to highlight the benefits and problems from such development and help to identify alternative approaches and policy options to land development for China’s urban future. The paper is based on several fieldworks and many in-depth interviews with village and local officials conducted in 2013 in Beijing, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Guangzhou areas.

Keywords: Urban and Regional Planning, Development, Informal Land Markets, Stakeholders