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Special Feature

Strong Village Leadership vs. Government Investment: Reflections on a Community Reconstruction Case in Southwest China

Siyuan Xu
p. 39-47

Abstract

In post-socialist China, the village’s collective management over community farmland, forestry, and other resources has been greatly undermined since China’s reform and opening up in the early 1980s. The subsequent rural-urban migration has further dismantled rural communities. Efforts have been made to revitalise the countryside, yet little success has been achieved. This paper closely examines one community reconstruction case that experienced two development stages: village committee-led internal development based on collective management of community resources, and tourism development externally subsidised by the government. Unsuccessful as it is, the case shows the vital role of collective resource management in comparison to external subsidies and investment in community reconstruction. It also suggests that a strong community leadership can initiate the process of community reconstruction, but a lack of mobilisation and participation of community members creates underlying issues that threaten its sustainability.

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Editor's notes

Manuscript submitted on 28 October 2020. Accepted on 11 May 2021.

Excerpt

Full text document will be published online on June 2022.

Outline

Introduction: Modernisation and the rise of rural reconstruction
Rural reconstruction: Debates and practices in two eras
Collective economy in the Mao era: The legacy and implications for the current rural reconstruction
Debates around reconstructing rural communities in China: The market, village leadership, and the state
Xin Village: The transition of rural reconstruction based on collective management of community resources
Retaining collective management over community resources
The transition of rural reconstruction: From internal development to government intervention
Internal development or external investment: The sustainability of rural reconstruction
Reflection and conclusion: Leadership, participation, and community reconstruction

First lines

Introduction: Modernisation and the rise of rural reconstruction

In 1978, China embarked on market reform. In rural China, the collective economy that existed for three decades in the Mao era (mid-1950s to 1970s) was significantly undermined and replaced with the household responsibility system (HRS). Under the HRS, community resources (e.g. farmland, forestry, and grassland) are still collectively owned, but they are allocated to individual rural households through contracts. Over the past four decades, market reform has significantly transformed Chinese society. In 2010, China surpassed Japan and became the second largest economy in the world. Rapid industrialisation has made China the largest producer of coal, cement, raw steel, steel, and electricity for years. At the same time, China has rapidly urbanised. In 2019, the urbanisation rate in China reached 60.60%, with roughly 850 million people living in cities. Policy and intellectual discourses have largely celebrated the achiev...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Siyuan Xu, « Strong Village Leadership vs. Government Investment: Reflections on a Community Reconstruction Case in Southwest China », China Perspectives, 2021/2 | 2021, 39-47.

Electronic reference

Siyuan Xu, « Strong Village Leadership vs. Government Investment: Reflections on a Community Reconstruction Case in Southwest China », China Perspectives [Online], 2021/2 | 2021, Online since 01 June 2022, connection on 28 September 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/11723 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/chinaperspectives.11723

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About the author

Siyuan Xu

Siyuan Xu is Lecturer at the Department of Humanities and Social Development, Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, 3 Taicheng Road, Yangling District, Xianyang, Shaanxi, China. Her research interests include rural development, agrarian change, development studies, and food (seed) sovereignty (xusiyuan708@163.com).

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