« Ambiguous Rights: Land Reform and the Problem of Minor Property Rights Housing », paper written by Karita Kan (2012). China Perspectives, 2012/3.
Minor property rights housing (xiao chanquan fang 小产权房) is an unofficial term referring to illegal residential structures built on rural, collectively-owned land that is sold or rented to non-local urbanites. Its controversial legal status stems from the dual ownership structure in China’s land regime. According to Article 8 of the Land Administration Law, the state claims ownership of urban land, while land in rural and suburban areas is owned, unless otherwise stipulated, collectively by rural residents represented by peasant collectives. Rural collective land is theoretically reserved for the exclusive use of villagers, and should be not sold, transferred, or leased to non-rural residents. The real estate boom and successive hikes in property prices have nevertheless provided strong incentives for rural landowners to capture the monetary benefits of urban development through selling and leasing land and houses to urbanites looking for affordable accommodation.
Li, Zhigan1, Wu, Fulong2 (2013) Residential satisfaction in China’s informal settlements: a case study of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Urban Geography. Published online: 22 Jul 2013 [Ahead of print]
China’s informal settlements—villages inside urbanized areas—are often characterized by local governments as dirty, chaotic, and dangerous places. This negative discourse inevitably leads to recommendations for demolition. A number of criteria have been invoked in state decisions regarding the demolition of informal settlements; however, rarely are these places evaluated from the residents’ perspective. This paper, following a long tradition of residential satisfaction research in Western nations, uses a household survey to examine this topic in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. We find that local contexts not only matter, but may be the principal determinants of residential satisfaction. The residential satisfaction of village dwellers is not necessarily low, and most socioeconomic attributes are not statistically significant determinants of resident satisfaction. Migrants and low-income groups are not less satisfied than nonmigrants or middle-range income earners; the most important determinant is social attachment within the community. The perception of being excluded, or lacking neighborhood social attachment, significantly reduces residential satisfaction. No facilities can compensate for this negative exclusion factor. We conclude that demolishing informal settlements does not help to build a “harmonious society,” which is the purported goal of such programs. Removing the social and institutional barriers for migrant integration into the city is likely the most effective way to enhance residential satisfaction and neighborhood quality.