Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Structural Change, Land Use and the State in China: Making Sense of Three Divergent Processes

Abstract

This article uses the case of Chinese economic growth to interrogate the implications of changes in land-use patterns within the context of structural transformation. It argues that although land-use change is an important underlying dimension of the structural transformation accompanying economic growth the dominant theoretical literature on structural change is not cognizant of this fact. It does so by looking at arable land conversion in coastal provinces, the ‘Grain for Green’ program and ‘wasteland’ reclamation. It also argues for an integrated analysis that recognizes that land has a type of scarcity that arises from its location and not just its total availability at the national level. This article shows that the transition of land in China between its uses defies the dominant linear and unidirectional narrative. The processes discussed show that land moves in different directions and purposes as determined by state vision of progress and development.

Abstract

En s’appuyant sur le cas de la croissance économique chinoise, cet article s’interroge sur les implications des évolutions dans les modes d’usage de l’espace, dans un contexte de transformation structurelle. Il soutient que le changement d’affectation des sols est un aspect important, et sous-jacent à la transformation structurelle accompagnant la croissance économique, mais que pourtant la littérature théorique dominante sur les questions de transformation structurelle ne prend pas ce fait en considération. A cet effet, l’article examine la conversion des terres arables dans les provinces côtières, le programme ‘Grain for Green’ et la réhabilitation des terres dégradées. Il plaide également en faveur d’une analyse intégrée prenant compte du fait que la rareté d’une terre est fonction de son emplacement et non pas seulement de sa disponibilité totale sur l’ensemble du territoire national. Cette étude montre qu’en Chine, la transition entre les différents usages de l’espace remet en question la théorie, dominante, linéaire et unidirectionnelle. Les processus examines montrent que l’évolution des terres prend des directions variées et se fait à des fins différentes en fonction de la vision du progrès et du développement adoptée par l’Etat.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Figure 1

References

  1. Adams, W.M. (1990) Green Development: Environment and Sustainability in the Third World. London: Routledge.

  2. Akram-Lodhi, A.H. and Kay, C. (2009) Peasants and Globalization: Political Economy, Rural Transformation and the Agrarian Question. London: Routledge.

  3. Andrade, D. (2009) Feeding the World with Hunger: The Agrarian Question in Brazil and the Global Agrarian Crisis. MA in Development Studies. Rural Livelihoods and Global Change. The Hague, Institute of Social Studies.

  4. Aradhak, P. and Arvind, A. (2011) Noida farmers to continue fight for land. Times of India, 13 August, http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-08-13/noida/29884036_1_noida-farmers-urgency-clause-land-acquisition, accessed 4 August 2012.

  5. Arsel, M. and Buscher, B. (2012) Nature™ Inc.: Changes and continuities in neoliberal conservation and market-based environmental policy. Development and Change 43 (1): 53–78.

  6. Ash, R.F. and Edmonds, R.L. (1998) China's land resources, environment and agricultural production. China Quarterly 156: 836–879.

  7. Becqeulin, N. (2004) Staged development in Xinjiang. The China Quarterly 178: 358–378.

  8. Bennett, M.T. (2008) China's sloping land conversion program: Institutional innovation or business as usual? Ecological Economics 65 (4): 699–711.

  9. Borras, S.M. and Franco, J.C. (2012) Global land grabbing and trajectories of Agrarian change: A preliminary analysis. Journal of Agrarian Change 12 (1): 34–59.

  10. Brautigam, D. (2011) The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  11. Castells, M. (1996) The Rise of the Network Society. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

  12. Chen, L.D., Gong, J., Fu, B.J., Huang, Y.L. and Gui, L.D. (2007) Effect of land use conversion on soil organic carbon sequestration in the Loess hilly area, Loess Plateau of China. Ecological Research 22: 641–648.

  13. Chenery, H.B. and Syrquin, M. (1975) Patterns of Development, 1950–1970. London: Oxford University Press for the World Bank.

  14. China Daily. (2010) Water transfer system to end Xinjiang drought, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-11/09/content_11519031.htm, accessed 4 August 2012.

  15. Clark, C. (1940) The conditions of Economic Progress. London: Macmillan.

  16. Dasgupta, A. (2010) Land acquisition to consolidate land reforms? The case of West Bengal. In: L. Banerjee, A. Dasgupta and R. Islam (eds.) Development, Equity and Poverty: Essays in Honour of Azizur Rahman Khan. New Delhi: Macmillan.

  17. Démurger, S., Younzhao, H. and Weiyong, Y. (2009) Forest management policies and resource balance in China: An assessment of the current situation. Journal of Environment and Development 18 (1): 17–41.

  18. Deng, X.Z., Huang, J., Rozelle, S. and Uchida, E. (2006) Cultivated land conversion and potential agricultural productivity in China. Land Use Policy 23 (4): 372–384.

  19. Ding, C. (2007) Policy and praxis of land acquisition in China. Land Use Policy 24 (1): 1–13.

  20. Doornbos, M., Saith, A. and White, B. (2000) Forest lives and struggles: An introduction. In: M. Doornbos, A. Saith and B. White (eds.) Forests: Nature, People, Power. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

  21. Ellman, M. (1975) Did the agricultural surplus provide the resources for the increase in investment in the USSR during the first five year plan? The Economic Journal 85 (340): 844–863.

  22. Erlich, A. (1950) Preobrazhensky and the economics of Soviet industrialisation. Quarterly Journal of Economics 64 (1): 57–88.

  23. Fisher, A.G.B. (1939) Production, primary, secondary and tertiary. Economic Record 15 (1): 24–38.

  24. Griffin, K., Khan, A.R. and Ickowitz, A. (2002) Poverty and the distribution of land. Journal of Agrarian Change 2 (3): 279–330.

  25. Griffin, K.B. (1984) Institutional Reform and Economic Development in the Chinese Countryside. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe.

  26. He, S.J., Liu, Y., Webster, C. and Wu, F. (2009) Property rights redistribution, entitlement failure and the impoverishment of landless farmers in China. Urban Studies 46 (9): 1925–1949.

  27. Huang, J., Otsuka, K. and Rozelle, S. (2008) The role of agriculture in China's economic development. In: L. Brandt and T.G. Rawski (eds.) China's Great Economic Transformation. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, xxii, p. 906.

  28. Hubacek, K. and van den Bergh, J. (2006) Changing concepts of ‘land’ in economic theory: From single to multi-disciplinary approaches. Ecological Economics 56 (2006): 5–27.

  29. Jänicke, M. (1990) State Failure: The Impotence of Politics in Industrial Society. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.

  30. Keliang, Z. and Prosterman, R. (2007) Securing Land Rights for Chinese Farmers: A Leap Forward for Stability and Growth. Cato Development Policy Analysis Series (No. 3).

  31. Kuznets, S.S. (1965) Economic Growth and Structure, Selected Essays. New York: Norton.

  32. Kuznets, S.S. (1966) Modern Economic Growth: Rate, Structure, and Spread. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

  33. Lai, H.Y.H. (2002) China's western development program – Its rationale, implementation, and prospects. Modern China 28 (4): 432–466.

  34. Laitner, J. (2000) Structural change and economic growth. Review of Economic Studies 67 (3): 545–561.

  35. Lewis, A. (1954) Economic development with unlimited supplies of labor. Manchester School of Economic and Social Studies 22 (2): 139–191.

  36. Lichtenberg, E. and Ding, C.G. (2008) Assessing farmland protection policy in China. Land Use Policy 25 (1): 59–68.

  37. Lin, J.Y.F. (2011) New structural economics: A framework for rethinking development. World Bank Research Observer 26 (2): 193–221.

  38. Liu, C. and Wu, B. (2010) ‘Grain for Green Programme’ in China: Policy Making and Implementation, The University of Nottingham: China Policy Institute, Nottingham, Issue 60.

  39. Liu, J.G., Li, S., Ouyang, Z., Tam, C. and Chen, X. (2008a) Ecological and socioeconomic effects of China's policies for ecosystem services. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105 (28): 9477–9482.

  40. Liu, Y.S., Wang, L. and Long, H. (2010) Analysis of arable land loss and its impact on rural sustainability in Southern Jiangsu Province of China. Journal of Environmental Management 91 (3): 646–653.

  41. Liu, Y.S. et al (2008b) Spatio-temporal analysis of land-use conversion in the eastern coastal China during 1996–2005. Journal of Geographical Sciences 18 (3): 274–282.

  42. Mackellar, F.L. and Vining, D.R. (1989) Measuring natural-resource scarcity. Social Indicators Research 21 (5): 517–530.

  43. Man, J.Y. and Hong, Y.-H. (eds.) (2010) China's Local Public Finance in Transition. Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

  44. Marton, A.M. (2000) China's Spatial Economic Development: Restless Landscapes in the Lower Yangzi Delta. London: Routledge.

  45. Matsuyama, K. (2008) Structural change. In: S.N. Durlauf and L. Blume (eds.) The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Basingstoke, UK; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  46. McMichael, P. (1997) Rethinking globalization: The agrarian question revisited. Review of International Political Economy 4 (4): 630–662.

  47. Mishra, D. (2011) Behind dispossession: State, land grabbing and agrarian change in rural Orissa. Paper presented at the International Conference on Global Land Grabbing, 6–8 April, IDS Sussex.

  48. Mol, A.P.J. (2006) Environment and modernity in transitional China: Frontiers of ecological modernization. Development and Change 37 (1): 29–56.

  49. National Bureau of Statistics (1991) China Statistical Yearbook 1991. Beijing: China Statistics Press.

  50. National Bureau of Statistics (2009) China Statistical Yearbook 2009. Beijing: China Statistics Press.

  51. O'Connor, M. (1994) Is Capitalism Sustainable?: Political Economy and the Politics of Ecology. New York: Guilford Press.

  52. O'Donnell, G., Schmitter, P. and Whitehead, L. (eds.) (1986) Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Prospects for Democracy. Baltimore, MD; London: Johns Hopkins University Press.

  53. Peng, H., Cheng, G., Xu, Z., Yin, Y. and Xu, W. (2007) Social, economic, and ecological impacts of the ‘Grain for Green’ project in China: A preliminary case in Zhangye, Northwest China. Journal of Environmental Management 85 (3): 774–784.

  54. Ran, T. (2011) China's land grab is undermining grassroots democracy: The standoff in Wukan exemplifies the growing tensions between state and society in a rapidly urbanising country. The Guardian. London, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/16/china-land-grab-undermining-democracy, accessed 4 August 2012.

  55. Rist, G. (2009) The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith. London: Zed Books.

  56. Shapiro, J. (2001) Mao's War against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China. Cambridge; New York, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  57. Shen, Y. and Lein, H. (2005) Land and water resources management problems in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift – Norwegian Journal of Geography 59 (3): 237–245.

  58. Spoor, M., Arsel, M. and Pingan, J. (2012) Local climate change, water scarcity and institutional responses in Xinjiang, China. In: M. Salih (ed.) Local Climate Change and Society. London: Routledge.

  59. Spoor, M. and Xiaoping, S. (2009) Cotton and rural income development in Xinjiang. In: M. Spoor (ed.) The Political Economy of Rural Livelihoods in Transition Economies: Land, Peasants and Rural Poverty in Transition. London: Routledge, xii, p. 270.

  60. Spoor, M. and Xiaoping, S. (2010) Shifting livelihood strategies of small cotton farmers in Southern Xinjiang. In: V. Beckman, N.H. Dung, X. Shi, M. Spoor and J. Wesseler (eds.) Economic Transition and Natural Resources Management in East and Southeast Asia. Maastricht, the Netherlands: Shaker Publications.

  61. Sud, N. (2009) The Indian state in a liberalizing landscape. Development and Change 40 (4): 645–665.

  62. Tan, M.H., Li, X., Xie, H. and Lu, C. (2005) Urban land expansion and arable land loss in China – A case study of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. Land Use Policy 22 (3): 187–196.

  63. Taylor, L. (2004) Reconstructing Macroeconomics: Structuralist Proposals and Critiques of the Mainstream. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  64. Timmer, C.P. (1988) The structural transformation. In: H.B. Chenery, T.N. Srinivasan and J.R. Behrman (eds.) Handbook of Development Economics. Amsterdam, the Netherlands: New York, North Holland.

  65. Uchida, E., Xu, J., Xu, Z. and Rozelle, S. (2007) Are the poor benefiting from China's land conservation program? Environment and Development Economics 12 (4): 593–620.

  66. Xu, J.T., Tao, R., Xu, Z. and Bennett, M.T. (2010) China's sloping land conversion program: Does expansion equal success? Land Economics 86 (2): 219–244.

  67. Xu, Z.G., Bennett, M.T., Tao, R. and Xu, J. (2004) China's sloping land conversion programme four years on: Current situation and pending issues. International Forestry Review 6 (3–4): 317–326.

  68. Xu, Z.G., Deng, X., Huang, J., Rozelle, S. and Uchida, E. (2006) Grain for Green versus grain: Conflict between food security and conservation set-aside in China. World Development 34 (1): 130–148.

  69. Yan, H.M., Liu, J., Huang, H.Q., Tao, B. and Cao, M. (2009) Assessing the consequence of land use change on agricultural productivity in China. Global and Planetary Change 67 (1–2): 13–19.

  70. Yansui, L., Wang, L. and Long, H. (2008) Spatio-temporal analysis of land-use conversion in the eastern coastal China during 1996-2005. Journal of Geographical Sciences 18 (3): 274–282.

  71. Yin, R.S., Yin, G. and Li, L. (2010) Assessing China's ecological restoration programs: What's been done and what remains to be done? Environmental Management 45 (3): 442–453.

  72. Yue, T.X., Wang, Q., Lu, Y.M., Xin, X.P., Zhang, H.B. and Wu, S.X. (2010) Change trends of food provisions in China. Global and Planetary Change 72 (3): 118–130.

Download references

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Max Spoor, Haroon Akram-Lodhi and Shi Xiaoping and the two anonymous referees for their very useful comments and suggestions. Part of this research was conducted as part of the ‘Changing Livelihood Strategies in Rural Xinjiang: Cotton Production, Environment and Poverty Reduction’ project carried out by teams from the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) and Xinjiang Agricultural University. We gratefully acknowledge the financial contributions of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (Project Nr. 07CDP028) to this project.

Author information

Correspondence to Murat Arsel.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Arsel, M., Dasgupta, A. Structural Change, Land Use and the State in China: Making Sense of Three Divergent Processes. Eur J Dev Res 25, 92–111 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1057/ejdr.2012.26

Download citation

Keywords

  • China
  • land
  • state
  • structural change
  • economic growth