Transforming Rural China: How Local Institutions Shape Property Rights in Rural China

By Chih-Jou Jay Chen | Go to book overview

6

Hancun village

The case study

The case study of the town of Shihshi in Fujian serves as a prime example of the distinct nature of property right development in this corner of China. An exploration of the town, and the individuals and families that make it, bring into sharp focus the role of lineages in the local economy, and how the small business model grew.


Shishi before the reforms

The city of Shishi sits on the focal point of a stout peninsula jutting off of Fujian into the Taiwan Strait. From its imperial days of bustling trade with other coastal cities and overseas Chinese communities, to its streets today overflowing with goods from around the world, Shishi has always displayed a natural tendency toward trade and commercial markets. Before the 1949 revolution, Shishi was known as the little Hong Kong, with vendors relying on overseas connections to import foreign goods and pedal them on the thriving local markets. Everything from toothpaste to milk powder and pens traded freely in those days. Over half of the goods were stamped with a "made in the USA" label.


Shishi in the socialist period

The 1949 revolution changed all this of course, or at least it tried. Between the mid-1950s and early 1970s - the period of Anti-Rightist movement and commune system - imports were banned and all goods produced had to be planned and distributed by the government. In 1953, for instance, Shishi followed the national trend of practicing the "socialist correction" (shehui zhuyi gaizao) over individual businesses and private commerce. This meant all industry and business was brought into the cooperative system in which products were bought and sold through the bureaucracy instead of free market mechanisms. Naturally, commercial activities disappeared for some time.

However, in Shishi, commercial activities were concealed and found a way to survive. Despite the crackdown, Shishi constantly tested the limits

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Transforming Rural China: How Local Institutions Shape Property Rights in Rural China
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations x
  • Acknowledgments xii
  • Abbreviations xiv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Explaining Property Rights Transformations 7
  • Part I - The Yangtze Delta Property Rights Transformations 31
  • 2 - The Yangtze Delta in the Reform Era 33
  • 3 - The Yangtze Delta in the Postreform Era 70
  • 4 - Shuang Village 100
  • Part II - Southern Fujian Property Rights Transformations 125
  • 5 - Southern Fujian Under Economic Reforms 127
  • 6 - Hancun Village 160
  • 7 - Conclusion 178
  • Notes 188
  • Bibliography 194
  • Index 208
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