Hu Jintao’s Land Reform: Ambition, Ambiguity, and Anxiety

Amid the global financial crisis and its strong impact on the Chinese economy, the Party leadership has embarked on another land reform plan.

This ambitious development plan promises to give farmers more rights and market incentives that will encourage them to subcontract and transfer land. It will also give incentives for surplus rural laborers to move to urban areas.

What is the impetus behind this new round of land reform? What are the principal objectives and policy initiatives? How well are China’s leaders going to be able to handle a socioeconomic transformation of this magnitude? What are the possible negative consequences of this reform? What kind of leadership division might occur? What sorts of local versus national fissures might this new development strategy open? Will this land reform be able to significantly reduce the economic disparity in the country, thus increasing domestic demand in China’s vast rural areas?

This preliminary study of the launch of Hu Jintao’s land reform aims to shed light on these timely and important questions.

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