I’m always looking for information about China, and I hit gold with the May 8 The Economist. Click the link to read the entire piece or read this summary. I bought the magazine.
China has two classes—rural and urban. The urban people have prospered for the last thirty years as China built a middle class. Most rural Chinese have not been able to benefit from the booming economy and are getting restless.Rural land outside China’s cities belongs to collectives. When Mao won China, the Communists divided the land among villages—not individuals. Individuals do not hold title to farmland and cannot sell land that no one owns.
China saw what was happening in India when farmers sold their plots to developers. Rural people in India flocked to the cities and built sprawling slums. To avoid that, the Chinese government created a system to keep rural people on their farms. Another motivation was fear of another famine like the one that struck China from 1959 to 1961 killing millions from starvation. If farmers left the fields for a better lifestyle in cities, that nightmare might return.
Currently, an experiment is being tried in rural areas outside Chongqing to see if the land can be divided among individuals while increasing food production. Since the government still hasn’t figured out how to make the transition smoothly, don’t expect rural land reforms to happen quickly.
Discover China’s middle class expanding
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.