China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
As an integral part of China’s economic transition, land commodification turns land from an administratively allocated, free-of-charge asset into a marketable commodity, giving rise to new dynamics of political economic development in China. This panel’s papers examine how the state, market, and society respond to this change and interact with one another to shape Chinese political economic development. Cai finds that although formal land property rights discriminate against rural residents, land-losing villagers are able to use negotiation as a means to engage with local governments and improve their land property rights. Hu shows that under certain property designs, formal property rights can weaken the bargaining power of vulnerable groups vis-à-vis the government, while informal property rights can strengthen it. Cai and Vortherms examine how appreciation of land’s market values impacts rural households’ preferences for changing their household registration (hukou) status from rural to urban. Zeng finds that through the manipulation of buffer institutions and administrative procedures, local governments can achieve urban renewal while being strategically absent from popular resistance. The papers in this panel exhibit a variety of research methods but all are developed based on solid fieldwork. Some use quantitative analysis of survey data. Others rely on detailed case studies that involve extensive interviews and archival work. The diversity of these papers contributes to a better understanding of urbanization and political economic development in China and to broader debates about property rights, transitional economies, formal and informal institutions, and the state-market-society triad.