Peasants’ counterplots against the state monopoly of the rural urbanization process: urban villages and ‘small property housing’ in Beijing, China
Abstract. Chinese economic reforms have moved Mao’s antiurban paradigm to an urban-driven paradigm. Since the late 1980s, modernist reforms have led to large scales of urbanization, particularly in the suburban rural zones. Extensive amounts of farmland in Beijing have been expropriated for conversion to urban use to bolster economic growth. Whilst market reforms have resulted in a substantial rise in land values, as the state is effectively the sole landowner, little of the ‘surplus value’ thus created has gone to the peasants who merely have user rights. In response, peasants have created an informal sales and rental housing market to make up for their loss in livelihood, and to meet the demand of Beijing residents and low-income migrant workers. Supported by site surveys, this paper examines peasants’ rights to the city, other property rights, and the ways in which they exercise their ‘illegal’ rights and the mechanism by which the ‘surplus value’ is shared between the state, the developers, and, albeit limited, the peasants in the urbanization process. More intricate policy measures have since been taken by the Chinese government in pacifying the social tension arising from inequitable housing distribution. Keywords: state monopoly, rural urbanization, land-sourced-revenues, inequitable housing distribution, informal market, illegality
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