Beyond Property Rights and Displacement: China’s Neoliberal Transformation and Housing Inequalities

  • Zhao Zhang
Part of the The Contemporary City book series (TCONTCI)


Based on the empirical findings from the historic inner city of Nanjing, this chapter argues that China’s neoliberal urban housing reform has led to the conflicts associated with property rights and forced displacement, and that it is important to pay attention to the understanding of by-products such as a shortage of public housing in suitable locations and contradictions between pro-homeownership propaganda and the reality of housing as a basic human need. The recent state-led housing provision restructuring under the ‘egalitarian’ banner of ‘indemnification’ or ‘shantytown renovation’ has served to speed up the forced displacement and resettlement of residents without evoking a new wave of social contestations. In this regard, this chapter further argues that it can be restrictive to solely define China’s economic and housing reforms as conforming to developmental capitalism or state-sponsored neoliberalism. It is proposed that a more embracing and evolutionary stance should be employed to gauge the ongoing neoliberal mutations and variegated housing policies.



The author is deeply indebted to Dr. Niamh Moore-Cherry’s highly engaged supervision during his PhD and Áine Rickard’s valuable comments on an early version of this chapter. His sincere gratitude also goes to two editors, especially Prof. Hyun Bang Shin for his warm invitation and very insightful editorial suggestions to facilitate the improvement of this chapter. This research is sponsored by the National Social Science Fund of China (grant number 18CSH012).


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhao Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.Zhejiang University of TechnologyHangzhouChina

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