In China, urban development is not on an equal footing in urban and rural areas. This is because there is a heavy demand for land in urban areas, whereas there is insufficient use of land in rural areas. As a result, large tracts of land near cities are requisitioned to satisfy the high demand, while substantial areas of rural land remain abandoned.
Let us take, for example, the Jiangjin district in Sichuan province. Approximately 400,000 farmers reside in the district, and 23% of them admit that they have abandoned farming and all other activities related to farming. This abandoned farm land adds up to a total of approximately 30,000 acres. To confront this problem, the government has established the land ticket system.
The province that first adopted the land ticket system is Chongqing. The system works as follows: First, in order to return deserted land to cultivation, farmers must re-cultivate the land. Once this is done, farmers can request that the appropriate administrative department assess the land. After examining and approving the land, the government will measure the area and issue land tickets to the farmers. The land tickets represent the farmers’ right to use the land, and they can be sold to third parties through the system of rural land transactions.
In Chongqing, an institute for rural land transactions was established in 2008. The land tickets can be sold at public auction. Buyers who obtain a land ticket from farmers gain the right to use a specific area of the land (defined by the measurement indicated on the land ticket). Subsequently, the owner of the land ticket can negotiate with the government over the selection of this specific area of land, which must be land that has not been expropriated but is included in urban planning. The government then proceeds with the land acquisition process and transfers the land use rights to the land ticket owner.
By means of this land ticket system, the problem of abandoned rural land in remote areas can be solved. When the purchasers of land tickets obtain their ticket, they can urge the government to acquire the land, increasing their options on desirable land. For the farmers, transforming deserted land to cultivated land activates the potential benefits that can be had from it. Selling the land tickets allows them to profit from land auctions, thus providing them with incomes.
Cities using the land ticket system include Chongqing and Chengdu. This system is a new approach that has emerged as a result of China’s urban development and may help to solve the problem of urban land. However, because the system has only been in use for a short time, problems such as shady deals and disputes over land tickets still persist. The long-term effectiveness of the system is a subject worthy of further discussion.
Li Yunqian 李耘倩, «Qian tan tudi zhibiao jiaoyi moshi 浅谈土地指针交易模式 », Charming China, Vol. 14, 2011, p338.
Yang Fei 杨飞, «Fansi yu gailiang: De piao zhidu yi yu tan – yi chongqing de piao zhidu yunxing shijian yu yi sheng, chongqing daxue 反思与改良:地票制度疑与探—以重庆地票制度运行实践为例 », Academic Journal of Zhongzhou, Vol. 6, 2012, p. 70-74.