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Urbanizing the periphery: infrastructure funding and local growth coalition in China’s peasant relocation programs

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The Chinese State has addressed the dilemma between urban growth and farmland loss by launching mass peasant relocation programs. By moving peasants into high-rises and reclaiming their living space, arable lands are created to counterbalance the farmland loss. However, the current infrastructure funding model, which relies on local government’s bank loans, falls short of supporting the relocation programs. This paper explores this latest phase of urbanization in China by examining relocation programs in two counties in Chengdu, Sichuan and Shangqiu, Henan – before and after the transition to private investment. The paper reveals that private investors are becoming the main funders of relocation programs, and that the transition to private investment in relocation programs resulted in power reshuffle within the local growth coalition, compromises by the local government and consequently the exacerbation of peasant conditions. The paper concludes by reflecting on the social consequences of the transition, specifically benefit encroachment and risk transfer.
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Keywords: China; Urban infrastructure funding; local growth coalitions; relocation programs

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

Publication date: October 21, 2019

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