Urban Construction Land Development in Beijing
This chapter attempts to better understand UCL development in Beijing by scrutinizing the interests, power, and actions of local governments and the peasantry as suppliers of urban land and examining their interactions under region-specific market circumstances. Beijing’s UCL development is comparatively moderate in growth and well-performed in utilization efficiency, which can be explained to a great extent by the dominance of the formal sphere. The course of formal land development through expropriation is predominated by the local state with strong powers derived from the abundance of local budget, the political pressure from the central state, the effective use of land reservation system, and the active tradition of land management. However, the behavior of the Beijing government is also constrained simultaneously by the central state and peasantry. The peasantry also plays an active role in Beijing’s UCL development through informal approaches as a response to the severe imbalance between increasing market demand for urban spaces and restricted formal UCL supply quotas distributed by the central state. However, the pervasive distrust between individual peasants and rural cadres has profoundly undermined the power of peasantry as a whole. Thus, informal land development in Beijing under the weak power of the peasantry and constant regulation of the government is also moderate in magnitude and has not significantly pared down the relatively high level of land use efficiency. The case study of UCL development in Beijing have verified the hypotheses raised in the chapter on methodology and is conducive to the interpretation of a variety of inconsistences commonly occurring in empirical studies on China’s UCL development. In particular, many seemingly contradicting results in the existing literature could be understood by distinguishing UCLs located in the urban fringes and suburban areas, those developed by formal and informal approaches, and those used for industries and residents.