"Killing Two Birds with One Stone: How to end rural land expropriation and secure tenure for urban property owners at the same time"
Shitong Qiao & Roderick M Hills Jr
21 January 2021
Consider two apparently distinct problems that currently vex Chinese land policy. First, what is going to happen when the seventy-year term of land use rights (LURs) for homeowners in Chinese cities expires? LURs are similar to ground leases in common law jurisdictions, except that the owner and lessor of all urban land is the government. Although shorter-lived LURs in some cities have already reached term and been renewed, and Premier Li Keqiang assured homeowners in 2017 that there was no need for worry, the continued absence of formal legal guidance is striking. The drafting of China’s new Civil Code, which replaces the Property Law among others, offered a good opportunity to solve the LUR puzzle, but the final draft approved in May 2020 failed to do so. As more and more LURs come to the end of their terms in coming decades, the question about whether and how such leases can be renewed has become increasingly pressing. To frame the issue in more radical terms, as Professor Robert Ellickson did in 2012: “[I]f current policies continue, the health of every private industrial, commercial, and residential enterprise in China will fade as its fixed-term land contract winds down.”... Click here to read the full text.