Overwhelming farmland conversion for urban development in transitional China: Case study of Shanghai

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9 Citations (Scopus)


China has experienced an unprecedented level of farmland conversion for urban development despite the fact that farmland remains a highly scarce and valuable resource in this densely populated country. The causes of this presumably unreasonable phenomenon are examined from the perspective of competing claims for farmland conversion in Shanghai. The reasons behind such excessive farmland conversion for urban development in transitional China are generalized as follows: (1) the present urban-rural dualistic structure influences farmers to pursue economic rather than agricultural claims, (2) local governments with economic claims exercise strong incentives and power in converting farmland for urban purposes, (3) local governments largely undermine the enforcement of the central government's policies (which upholds agricultural claims), (4) other groups with noneconomic claims are excluded from the farmland conversion process, and (5) the village cadres and role model campaigns effectively reduce the conflict between farmers and local governments regarding the amount of compensation. Based on these findings, policy suggestions for farmland preservation are presented at the end of the paper.
Original languageEnglish
Article number05014013
JournalJournal of Urban Planning and Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Economic claims
  • Farmland conversion
  • Transitional China

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Urban Studies


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