China and Inner Asia
Since the early 2000s, the Chinese government has transformed hundreds of rural villages into urban cities and converted rural land into urban territory. Despite this complex transformation, the government is still able to exert control throughout the process to varying extent. This panel brings together political scientists who study China’s rural-urban transformation from different vantage points to shed light on how the government actively shapes the outcomes.
Susan Whiting and Tan Zhao study the 2019 revision of the Land Management Law that allows for direct conversion of rural into urban land, which marks the end of local government's legal monopoly on the change of land titles. Their study underscores the role of policy experimentation and the interplay among multiple levels of authorities in carrying out this important policy change. Kristen Looney examines the Party’s efforts to recruit college graduates to serve in village government positions. She argues this is part of the Party’s ambitious goal of administrative centralization, with the intention of weakening and ultimately replacing the power of existing village authorities. Lynette Ong and Zhouyang Zhao examine the dynamics of villagers’ collective action against the local government-real estate alliance in a Guangzhou urban-village demolition project. Their study demonstrates how the power-capital coalition often marginalizes villagers’ interests and muffles dissent. And yet, this urban village has been able to withstand the pressure of demolition for over a decade. Kevin O’Brien, a leading scholar of rural and contentious politics in China, will chair and discuss the papers.
Paper Presenter: Lynette H. Ong – University of Toronto
Paper Presenter: Kristen Looney – Georgetown University
Paper Presenter: Susan Whiting – University of Washington