Become a Supporter

Land Reform Run Amok

The dark side of state land grabs in China.

By: /
28 November, 2012
2012_11_Land-Reform-Run-Amok.width-646.jpg

In a recent article for Foreign Affairs, U of T professor Lynette H. Ong (who recently moderated our online discussion of the Chinese leadership transition) considers the dark side of state land grabs in China. Local officials there are displacing millions of farmers to make way for government construction projects to stimulate quick economic growth and impress their superiors up the political food chain. As Ong says:


An inevitable effect of state-led urbanization is that farmers are forced to vacate their land. Close to 300,000 peasants are removed from their villages every year to make room for the construction of airports, highways, and buildings. Since 1980, more than 60 million peasants, roughly the population of the United Kingdom, have been moved.


The displaced are not usually consulted before relocation. Governments frequently force them to leave by suspending the supply of utilities, such as electricity, to their homes. Increasingly, local governments are even hiring or colluding with gangsters to intimidate villagers who refuse to move. Tellingly, in some villages, these mobsters are known as the “second government.”


Ong’s article fills in some of the wider context behind a photo of a house in Wenling, Zhejiang province that made therounds last week:

Not going anywhere

Reuters

The elderly couple who own that house refused to allow their house to be demolished, claiming that the compensation offered to them was not enough to cover what it would cost to rebuild elsewhere.

Before you click away, we’d like to ask you for a favour … 

Journalism in Canada has suffered a devastating decline over the last two decades. Dozens of newspapers and outlets have shuttered. Remaining newsrooms are smaller. Nowhere is this erosion more acute than in the coverage of foreign policy and international news. It’s expensive, and Canadians, oceans away from most international upheavals, pay the outside world comparatively little attention.

At Open Canada, we believe this must change. If anything, the pandemic has taught us we can’t afford to ignore the changing world. What’s more, we believe, most Canadians don’t want to. Many of us, after all, come from somewhere else and have connections that reach around the world.

Our mission is to build a conversation that involves everyone — not just politicians, academics and policy makers. We need your help to do so. Your support helps us find stories and pay writers to tell them. It helps us grow that conversation. It helps us encourage more Canadians to play an active role in shaping our country’s place in the world.

Become a Supporter