Wednesday, September 19, 2012

China and land markets

In 1986 China established land markets. Explain why this was significant in terms of urban design.


  1. Samantha Gibbs: 1445642September 27, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    The establishment of the land markets in China in 1986 caused a significant shift in urban development, particularly in urban centers such as Haikau and Beijing. The key implication of the introduction of land markets was that land began to hold value and therefore in city centers where the land was of higher value, high rise buildings began to appear. It began to be more economically feasible for developers to build high rise/sky scraper development son less land and utilize the air space rather than pay th increasing land acquisition costs. The land markets introduction influenced the increase of suburban gated communities (Danweis), expressways to connect the high density centers to lower density suburban areas and “villages in the city”.
    Fubing,S.(2008).Land Market in Chinas Modernization: Regulations, Challenges and Reforms.China; East Asia Institute Publishing

  2. Jason van Niekerk, 1510475September 30, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    From 1949 to 1978 China was under communist rule. During this period all land was owned by the state and had the same value. When Chinese communism ended in 1978 the idea of having land at the same price continued until 1986 when land markets were established.

    This meant that while no one owned land, the rights to use the land could be traded and hence land gained a value. This created value changed the design of the urban environment as it was now more financially viable to build upwards (creating centers) and connecting cities with expressways. Old areas around the historical centres were gentrified.

    So overall the urban design of many parts of China went from a flat skyline with little variation, to a skyline dominated by skyscrapers.

    Jason van Niekerk, 1510475

  3. Vaitaua Mauala, 1559615September 30, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    Urban development within China has increased significantly since the establishment of land markets in 1986. These newly established land markets had a significant impact on urban design within China’s urban centres. Land markets were formed following major land use reforms put forth by the Chinese government. One major reform included the commodification of land use rights to encourage more efficient use of land. The significant increase of land value coupled with the encouragement of efficient use of land prompted the sporadic development of skyscrapers. This consequently altered the urban form of many Chinese cities that were traditionally defined by low to medium rise buildings.

    Ho, S. & Lin, G. 2005, ‘The State, Land System and Land Development Processes in Contemporary China’. Annals of the Association of American Geographer,. Vol. 95, No. 2, pp. 411-436
    Vaitaua Mauala 1559615

  4. The establishment of land markets in 1986 has impacted upon the urban form and development of China, particularly in the large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.
    The land use reforms of the 1980's and the introduction of land markets meant that land could now be traded and thus begin to hold value. It was a significant change because land users were given more power to develop their land and could therefore do it in a more efficient way. This often meant building upwards. Therefore, in city centres, where the land held more value, skyscrapers began to be developed – changing the urban form of the cities from low rise to predominantly high rise.

    Qin, X. (2010). “The impact of political forces on urban land ownership reform in transitional China”. International Journal of Law in the Built Environment. Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 206-217.

    Georgia Brown
    gbro114 1617766

  5. Prior to the establishment of land markets in 1986, there was no variation in land value in China. This meant that the locality of a site did not determine its price for land use rights, and therefore there was no need to construct high-density urban centres.

    Since the creation of the Urban Open Land Market, rapid modernization, industrialization and urbanization have occurred, which in turn has significantly changed the urban form. Old towns and villages have become embedded amongst the modern high-rises and skyscrapers in cities and often new CBD’s have been created. This dramatic shift is significant for Urban Design because the needs of the City and its users has altered significantly in a short period of time, therefore planning mechanisms will need to work quickly to keep up.

    Jessica Esquilant

  6. Traditionally, all land in China was viewed as of equal value. This led to the traditional urban design in China being similar mid-rise development.

    The establishment of land markets in 1986 led to the diversification of urban design that reflected the diversification of land values. For example, Skyscrapers have been built in the high value city centres.

    The establishment of land values has, however, increased tension between urban conservation and redevelopment. Late conservation policies has led to pockets of older development sandwiched between skyscrapers in most cities.

    It is also important to note that the land market in China is for land rights, rather than owning the land itself. This reflects the country's socialist framework.

    Aaron Grey

  7. Charlotte Hamilton-Pama 1515604October 1, 2012 at 9:56 PM

    Prior to land-use reforms, which took place in China at the end of the 1980’s, there was no variation in land values in China. As the value of one’s land use rights was not determined by a market system of supply and demand, instead it was heavily regulated under communism rule (1949 to 1978). What this therefore meant in relation to the urban form of Chinese cities, was that there was no incentive to build high-rise buildings, and concentrate development within city centers.

    It was not until 1986 when serious deregulation to China’s land policies that urban development in China drastically changed i.e. with the creation of the Urban Open Land Markets. This is because the establishment of these markets led to an increase in land value within old city settlements. For the reason that their value was now determined by the market; supply and demand. Consequently today in cities such as Shanghai, Xiamen, and Shenzhen their CBS’s are characterisied by high-rise, skyscrapers as opposed to low-density housing.

  8. Establishing land markets in 1986 was a major change for China in terms of its urban form, especially in large cities such as Beijing. This is because between 1949 and 1976 China was governed under the Communist Party which meant nearly all the land was owned by collectives or the state. Private property rights vanished and land transactions were banned. This meant the urban form was generally low to mid-rise buildings. However, after the introduction of land markets in 1986 land was highly valuable and so it became more profitable in urban centres for developers to build up. This created a fast-growing real estate market that is now transforming China’s urban landscape from primarily low-rise to high-rise buildings. This also led to the increase of Danweis and a gentrification of smaller historic towns which meant expressways were created to connect them to the larger cities.

    Ying Liu

  9. Liam Clark (1461140)October 2, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Under the communist regime that governed China between 1949 and 1978, all land was of equal value because it was owned communally by the state. This meant that urban design in China at the time would consist of little more than mid rise developments which would show in urban centres and create monotone skylines without any variety in building heights. The creation of urban land markets in 1986 did not give people land ownership, but land rights which could be traded- this gave the locality of land certain value and allowed rapid modernization and industrialization to occur. Dependent on the location of the land, urban design is different- for example in the more expensive areas of land such as the city centres, urban design consists of high rise skyscraper development so that profit can be maximized.

    Liam Clark (1461140)

  10. Due to China's communist rule, all the land had been owned by the state, and had the same value. Even after communism ended, China held onto these land values until 1986 when the establishment of the chinese land markets occurred.

    As certain land became more valuable, the design of the buildings and surrounding areas began to change. Where the land in the Central Business Districts increased so much, it only became viable for developers to build high rise buildings, as they used less land.

    Before the establishment of the Chinese land markets, the urban form in chinese cities was generally low to medium rise buildings.

    Gabrielle Bendig

  11. Matthew Zochowski 5333365October 2, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    The land market reform in 1986 opened up China’s land’s for purchase by Chinese as well as foreigners which allowed individuals and corporations to invest capital in Chinese land. The increase in manufacturing and industry on the East Coast required workers, which resulted in a mass migration of Chinese from rural areas to cities on China’s coast. This led to a rapid increase in urbanization with nearly 200-300 million Chinese migrants moving to cities. In order to accommodate this population, there was a shift from traditional development to new development zones, new towns, skyscrapers, expressways, etc. Often development would be sporadic and resulted in villages being surrounded by high-rise development.

    While the reforms opened China to unpredicted growth and development, they also degraded the urban environment and cultural identity which has caused social segregation and stratification. While Hutongs are destroyed, Gated-Communities are increasingly common in China which further promotes segregation. Chinese cities continue to grow at an unprecedented rate as population increases and the growing middle class seeks higher level residences. Currently China is undertaking a project on the Pearl River Delta region to combine nine cities into a single metropolis the size of Switzerland with a population of 42 million.

    Matthew Zochowski

  12. Before 1986, land was owned by the state and was of equal value due to the communist regime. Consequently, this influenced traditional China, causing a pattern of mid-rise development and a lack of high density urban centres owing to a lack of incentive. When China established urban open land markets in 1986, this significantly changed their approach to urban design. While this did not disestablish state ownership of land, it introduced the concept of land rights. These rights enabled trade, resulting in land gaining variation in value. This encouraged a more efficient use of land and shifted the focus from developing predominantly mid-rise buildings to including a mixture of modern high rise and skyscrapers.


  13. Urban land reforms and the resulting establishment of land markets have had a significant impact on urban development in China. Prior to 1987, land was held in public ownership by the state and collectives. During this time rents were non-existent, with individuals and companies making small administrative payments as a condition of land use. This led to uncontrolled low-density development in central city areas. Land markets were introduced post 1987, allowing land to be tradeable and thus increasing its worth. As a result of this, large-scale urban developments began to occur in order to make the most efficient and economically feasible use of land. The introduction of land markets has thus had a notable influence on China’s urban design, as high-rise and high-density development is now predominant in urban areas.

    Raheel Khan 1539665

  14. Between 1949 and 1978, China was ruled under a communist state, which resulted in land being owned by the state or as a collective. During this time, the urban form consisted of low or medium rise buildings as the value did not differ much. Land markets were employed in 1986 to allocate land in a more efficient manner and to protect valuable farmland for agricultural purposes. Land markets drove up the value of land and incentivised developers to build. This dramatically changed the urban form with the population growth spurring on demand for land as well as land or property in ideal locations. This led to the development of high-rise buildings and eventually leading to the creation of gated communities.

    Ho, S.P.S., Lin, G.C.S. (2003). Emerging Land Markets in Rural and Urban China: Policies and Practices. The China Quarterly, 175, 681-707.

    Grace Ng, 1579720

  15. Nathan Keyte (1554216)October 2, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    Mate, I turn my head for one second and the whole class puts up a blog. Good effort guys! Here's what I think:

    Prior to 1986, the development of land in China was relatively low density. This was because there were few sky scrapers as the land had little value, so there was no need to maximise use of space. This changed however when the land markets were introduced. Land markets exist when land is traded as a commodity, and most directly impacts upon the urban environment and quality of health. While In China the people do not own the land, they can own the rights to the use of the land. With the introduction of land markets, the urban shape of China began to change.

    Skyscrapers began appearing in order to maximise the value of land. However with these constructions came the problems of car and transport reliance to commute to work, with the result being pressures on roads, health and the occurrence of social stratification.

    Urban Planning Law did not provide a planning framework for land development in the market economy, and planners were under a lot of pressure by local governments to facilitate developments in order to maintain competiveness with neighbours. It saw planners assuming passive roles, rather than leading the pattern of development. This lack of effective planning then brought about a huge stock of idle land, the waste of precious arable land, and the draining of investment from infrastructure that was not even needed. Therefore how land markets are regulated in order to maintain efficiency of cities is a key concern of land markets, and will have inevitable effects upon the design of urban areas.

    Parsa, G., Redding, B. 2002. The Emergence of the Urban Land Market in China: Evolution, Structure, Constraints and Perspectives. Urban Studies, 39(8), pp. 1375-1398.

    United nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. 2012. Urban land policies for the uninitiated. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 29 September 2012].

    Nathan Keyte, 1554216

  16. Between 1949 and 1978, China was governed under a communist regime. At this time, land had equal value as it was owned by the state and there was an absence of rents. This lead to urban design outcomes that were low density, with a skyline absent of skyscrapers as land had little value and there was no need. As the population grew, the establishment of land markets in China in 1986 were adopted to allocate land more efficiently and protect agricultural land. Land markets allowed land to be traded as a commodity which increased its value and encouraged developers to invest in larger scale developments. This changed the urban design especially in large cities like Beijing. High-rise and high-density developments were made to maximise profit specifically in city centres where land value is higher.

    Jessica Parulian - 1598075

  17. The 1986 Land Administration Law was adopted primarily to develop land markets to supposedly allocate land more efficiently (Ho S.P.S., Lin G.C.S, 2003), this was a complete change from the principles that had driven so much urban design previously in China so inevitably has had significant urban design implications.

    The change to create land markets ended the previous urban design styles of socialist thinking such as Danweis. These settlements were often considered to have poor building quality and potentially unsafe and unsanitary conditions, although the loss of this style may also have meant the loss of fairness and equality as fundamental principles of urban design, and a set-back of the idea of self-contained mixed-use neighbourhoods. This has been replaced by market forces and development incentives leading to skyscrapers and expressways, as well as ingenuity in adaptive re-use of old buildings and a thriving urban economy.

    Ho S.P.S., Lin G.C.S. 2003. Emerging Land Markets in Rural and Urban China: Policies and Practices. The China Quarterly, 17, pages 681-707. Caimbridge. Caimbridge University Press

    Matthew T.W. Youl 1583666

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  19. Blog contribution, China’s land market reforms in 1988.
    Throughout China’s modern history, all land has been owned by the government the value of land in regard to particular abundances in resources was not considered in any financial value for the area. Before 1988 Chinese cities could not sell or lease land to individuals, foreign joint ventures, or domestic companies. The economic state of china throughout and as a result of the introduction of land markets has destroyed the previous totalitarianism anti-market state into a largely pro-business authoritarian one.

    With the introduction of market influence on both the economy and land values, and society and it’s attitude to capitalise from the growing economic conditions, the shape of urban development in China changed accordingly. Developments on valuable land in the cities increased in intensity and sky scrapers broke out like acne on an Chinese economy maturing through puberty. Developers did their best to increase profit from valuable land by utilising the air space above it and large scale urban growth in these areas occurred. This has had negative effects relative to rapidly increased density of an area including the overwhelmed supporting infrastructure leading to decreasing quality of the environment through pollution of commuters and degrading health effects associated with high pollution.

    Gar-On Yeh, A., Wu, F., Xu, J., 2007. Urban Development in Post-reform China: State, Market and Space. New York, Routledge.

    Dowall, D, E., 1993. Establishing Urban Land Markets in the People’s republic of China, Journal of the American Planning Association. 59 (2), 182-198
    Sean Stirling
    ssti07, 1506222

  20. Prior to 1986, land in China was a state owned asset with the Government expropriating land and allocating it to users. Due to much needed foreign investment however, China established land markets thereby giving monetary value to land and allowing for its trade. It is due to this market establishment that the urban form and urban design has been affected. In order to capitalise on investment, developers would be inclined to create high-density, high-rise buildings on land worth a high amount, which is the case in many city centers throughout China. This resulting urban form differs greatly from the traditional Chinese cities which were fairly low-rise and designed under traditional and religious values, beliefs and principles. Due to this type of development occurring, run-off effects such as increased urbanisation and traffic volumes would also impact upon the urban form through an increased demand for related services and infrastructure such as high capacity roading.

    Fubing,S. (2008) Land Market in Chinas Modernization: Regulations, Challenges and Reforms. East Asia Institute Publishing, National University of Singapore.

    Sunit Patel

  21. Historically, urban development in China was predominantly consisted of low-density housing, in which uniform state housing was often allocated to citizens under the communist tradition of equality. The state had ownership of all land in urban areas of China since 1956, until the establishment of land markets in 1986. This marked a significant turning point in China’s urban development, as it enabled urban land to be allocated more efficiently by introducing land use rights on top of administrative ownership, through the conversion of cultivated land to construction land. This emphasised the growing importance of commercialisation and private sector activities, during a period where rapid socio-economic development was occurring in China.

    The rights of land use thus became exchangeable and were associated with “pricetags”, which reflected higher economic demand in more urbanised cities and centres. This lead to the urban development of high density skyscrapers, which effectively utilized vertical space up into the sky rather than horizontal ground expansion, in an attempt to maximise land value whilst supporting immense population growth.

    Ho, S.P.S. & Lin, G.C.S. (2003). Emerging Land Markets in Rural and Urban China: Policies and Practices. The China Quarterly, 175, pp. 681-707.

    John Yan
    zyan070, 1583674

  22. Prior to the establishment of land markets in 1986, under the communist regime, the Chinese government owned all land and land values were equal. Under the regime there were no drive to shift towards high density development from the traditional relatively low to medium density developments in the urban areas. The introduction of land markets made a significant impact on China's urban and economic development as it allowed more effective land allocation and the protection of rural land. The new land use system allowed people with the right to use land and put a commodity value on land which lead to high-density development in order to maximise the space, land use and profit. This created a significant change in the urban environment in China which began to intensify the urban area with high-rise developments from the previous traditional low density development.

    Ho, S.P.S. & Lin, G.C.S.(2003). Emerging Land Markets in Rural and Urban China: Policies and Practices. The China Quarterly, 175, pp. 681-707.

    Kremzner M.T. (1998). Managing urban land in China: The emerging legal framework and its role in development. Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal, 7(3),pp. 611–655.

    kpar140, 1548668

  23. Before 1986, land in China was a free goods but not economic assets that encouraged uses to over-consume and applicants always demanded more land than they needed. China established land market in 1986. In terms of the viewpoint of urban design, after the change, purchasing land-use right by tender and auction becomes a market allocation, which fully reflects real market values. The direct impacts of the reform are the increase in economic efficiency in land uses and equity among land users. Also, the role of local government shifted from producing services to enabling the business community to produce and lead the transition. Decentralization is a key character of the reform. Some land-related subsidies may be produced to guide the market to follow government schemes and to translate government plans into market action. Along with the changes in economic and social structures, a unique process of property development and peculiar urban form may arise.

    Zhu, J. 1999. Local Growth Coalition: The Context and Implications of China’s Gradualist Urban Land Reforms, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 23(3): 534-548

    xwan290 1543816

  24. Before 1986, all the land was hold by the state and had the equal value, which actually limited the design availability (similar mid-rise development) and economic feasibility. So after the Chinese communism ends in 1978, the idea of land markets was introduced in 1986.
    This creation of the land markets led to a rapid evolution of the urban design form, especially in large cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Majority change of design form from mid-rise to high-rise mostly happened in city center and sometimes its relevant area, which enhanced the modernization and urbanization of those large cities. The key point of this introduction of land markets is the land got their own value, hence, the area where have higher land value, began to have higher-rise or sky-scraper developments, which encourages more efficient use of land for developers. This short-period shift of urban form is essentially significant for China and its people, since it is not only change the design form/principle of urban areas, but also leads to other social-economic changes, such as the increased or decreased of housing prices and the location choosing for new employment.
    khu009 1538849

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. Since the 1980s, China began the reform of land management system. In 1986, the State passed the Land Administration Law and established the State Land Administration.

    The reform of the land use system is a basic task of establishing a socialist market economic system. The goal of it is to establish a land market system which is compatible with the economy. Because of the small size of Chinese county town, the scattered layout, inadequate urban infrastructure, shortage of long-term funds, and the majority of the stock of state-owned land to be transferred, heavy loss of state-owned land has occurred. As a result, the government found it difficult to play the role of macro-control.In order to operate the cities well, the land market in China should include:

    1) normal price system and sound legal system to make the market behaviour standardised and orderly;

    2) efficient resource allocation system in the national macro-control;

    3) reasonable income distribution system which reflects a clear relationship between ownership and use of rent, fees and taxes;

    4) intermediary service system that promote the development of the land market.

    bche086 1540113

  27. The land market policy is a corner stone for the China in the planning aspect. Before 1986, the land development in China was mainly in low density, and the main reason behind it is, there was no land market policy exists, the consequence of that is, the land does not belong to individual and it belongs to the state, which makes the land price low and no attempting to maximise the usage of the land.
    However, since 1986, the land market is imported, the urban environment got significantly affected by such change, as people start to learn to maximise the land use, then the skyscraper start to show up as the solution of it.
    In my opinion, this change is one of the success for China, in some way, we read it as : let the market driven rule applies, screw the emperor controlling rule. Under such change, the land will be in more responsive and be more reflective to the local economy and market system. Under such change, people will have more incentive to think about it, as it is now market driven rather than state direct control, the economy will be benefited from it.

    Haoran Guo