Illegal farmland conversion in China's urban periphery: Local regime and national transitions

Yiming Wang, Steffanie Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Though a case study in a village located in suburban Haikou City, Hainan Province, this article suggests the existence of a local development regime that exercises illegal farmland conversion in China's urban periphery. This regime consists not only of state officials and business investors, but also of local farmers anxious for off-farm employment. Our study highlights the broad transitions that led to the rise of local development regimes in China's urban periphery. These transitions include (1) the development of the local state, (2) farmers' changing relations with local authorities, and (3) the asymmetrical liberalization of land transaction rights in rural and urban areas. Whereas the state government still manages to intervene in the local conversion of farmland, such intervention is increasingly ineffective as economic liberalization intensifies. A series of potential policies are recommended to protect farmland and agricultural livelihoods in the context of rapid urbanization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-347
Number of pages21
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • China
  • Farmland
  • Local development regime
  • Property rights
  • Transition

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