A county government in China is a crucial local government unit which controls vast expanse of rural arable land through its administrative jurisdiction over township and the village governments. But since the introduction of tax reforms in 1994, the county government is losing its autonomy. These transitions are often referred to as ‘hollowing out’ of local autonomy as rural urbanisation process is integrating rural counties under the administration of the municipal or provincial government. As a consequence of tax reforms, the municipal governments transferred the burden of earning extra-budgetary income including revenue generation, collection of fees and taxes largely to the lower levels of local administration. Chenggong county, located just 12 km away from Kunming city of Yunnan province presents an illustrative case of how urban transformations radically restructure rural relations. During my three rounds of field surveys in Chenggong county (2002, 2005 and 2015), I have witnessed the disappearance of farm land and the peasantry. My presentation will illustrate three processes and explain the social outcomes of these in Chenggong. Firstly, the municipal government has transformed the rural county into a modern urban district by constructing a new university town, high-rise apartments, logistics facilities and entertainment zones. In a drive to make a new Kunming city, the municipal government has set up the district headquarters in Chenggong, where new buildings house many county government offices and bureaus, earlier under the control of the county government. Secondly, the transformation of Chenggong county (known as ‘flower kingdom’) into an industrial cluster model has created a new business model where large companies have become important players. Third, in the process of land transfer, the rural population have become landless.
About the Speaker
Dr. Ritu Agarwal is an Associate Professor at the Centre for East Asian studies, School of International Studies, JNU. She holds a Ph.D. in Chinese studies from University of Delhi. She completed her M.A. in Political science, JNU. Her doctoral work explored the micro-level agrarian transformation in Yunnan province and she is currently engaged in questions of evolving property regime in China. Her research interests are: rural political economy, urbanisation, gender studies and provincial politics. Dr. Agarwal studied Mandarin Chinese from Beijing language and Culture University, Beijing. She was a visiting scholar to Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, Kunming; Jinan University, Guangzhou; Chinese University of Hong Kong and was affiliated to East Asia Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore.
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