Special Lecture | Building China’s Landlord State: Laying the Foundation for China’s Real Estate Boom | 19 March 2024 @ 3PM IST | Zoom Webinar

19 Mar 2024
Saul Wilson
Venue: Zoom Webinar
Time: 3:00 PM

In recent decades, China’s economy has come to revolve around real estate. The housing market and the infrastructure it helped finance, kept the Chinese economy growing in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis. Local government finance came to depend on the sale and mortgaging of land use rights. Now however, the shrinking real estate sector is slowing China’s economy. This presentation examines how real estate became central to China’s political economy. It shows that industrial policy aspirations motivated China's transformation into a landlord state, with a state monopoly on urban land. Much like other tools of industrial policy, state pricing and allocation of land required a strong state, prompting a series of state building efforts to impose control over land resources. These state building efforts spurred a broad growth coalition, spanning local governments, real estate developers, urban homeowners, and ultimately even peri-urban villagers. The political breadth of this growth coalition ultimately redirected the landlord state away from its industrial policy origins and towards frenetic real estate investment.


About the Speaker

Saul Wilson studies politics and urbanisation in China. His research examines how China became addicted to land, showing how the Chinese state sought to establish itself as a monopolist “landlord state.” He has written on the politics of urban development and land property rights during China’s rapid urbanization. His broader research agenda explores municipal politics in China, seeking to understand how leadership and institutions have shaped local politics. He completed his Ph.D. in Government (2022) from Harvard, having previously received his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Asian & Asian Diaspora Studies (2014) and his Master of Science in Urban Studies and Planning (2016) from MIT.


About the Chair

T. G. Suresh is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. A PhD in Chinese Studies, his research interests focus on urbanization and labour processes in China. His current project studies comparative labour histories of China and India. Suresh has published book chapters and journal articles on labour regimes in India and China and China’s urban question. His book reviews have appeared in China Quarterly and China Report. Suresh was a Fulbright-Nehru Visiting Scholar at Cornell University, Ithaca NY (2019-2020), Visiting Research Scholar at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore (2011), and a recipient of the Asia Fellows Award of the Asian Scholarship Foundation (2008). Since 2007, he has lived in and conducted research in Chinese cities including Shanghai, Chengdu, Beijing, and Guangzhou.


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