Failure by design : National mandates and agent control of local land use in China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

10 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations


Related Research Unit(s)


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-526
Journal / PublicationLand Use Policy
Online published7 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


This paper aims to fill the void in the literature by answering the following research question: to what extent has the Chinese central government institutionalized public participation for addressing the challenge of agent control of local land use in China? Focusing on the stated purposes, specified actors, and installed mechanisms of public participation and government accountability, an institutional analysis was conducted on the national land use regulations and policies enacted between 1947 and 2012. It was found, without institutionalized input and surveillance from bottom-up by individual citizens and civil society organizations (CSOs), the top-down approaches remained ineffective and land use was mainly left for manipulation by local governments. The rural-urban dichotomy and lack of institutionalized public participation in land use decision-making have compromised equal economic and social opportunity for farmers, eroded public trust in local governments, and led to social unrest. Thus, the central government needs not only to directly control the discharge of discretionary power by local governments, but also to empower the public for holding the government accountable for land use decisions.

Research Area(s)

  • Central-local relations, China, Development, Inequality, Institutional analysis, Rule of law