State-scalar politics of rural land reform in China: The case of Wujin district

ChangChang Zhou, Roger C K Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


China's central government has been devoted to advancing its dualistic land administration system, such as by designating pilot areas to explore rural land circulation and marketization. Given the increasingly liberalized rural land development practices at localities, this paper aims to explore the variations between policy-making by the central government and implementation at the local scale in the context of interactive politics. A case study of Wujin District, located in the economically developed Yangtze River delta, was examined to unfold the local policy implementation process as intertwined with scalar politics, rural land politics, and the experimentation features of China's reform. Conducted qualitatively, crucial policy actors were interviewed across multiple administrative levels ranging from the province, prefecture, county, and township governments to village collectives. It was found that within China's hierarchical land administration, decentralized policy experimentation encouraged by the central government was compromised by the scalar politics and local governmental power structure when implemented on the ground (i.e., the city-county struggles and the resultant incomplete authorities of the primary policy actor). The findings highlight that central policy design and the autonomy of local governments during the policy-making process should be coordinated by embracing scalar complexity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLand Use Policy
Issue numberMarch 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Scalar politics
  • Hong Kong
  • Policy experimentation
  • Rural land reform
  • China
  • City-county relation


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