When local governments manage to attract investors, villages can make deals to lease out their farmland. Then the villagers become low-skilled employees in agricultural enterprises. However, if the central or local governments expropriate their land for other kinds of development, the villagers will have to commute to the nearest city in order to find some work. But this is only an option for those who have their own vehicle.

New policies, new solutions?

In 2014, the political leadership introduced the plan for “new-type urbanisation”, which aims to put an end to large-scale village demolition and an urbanisation that is mainly motivated by local governments’ land grabbing. Instead, an improvement in rural migrants’ conditions in the cities and better protection of rural land rights are supposed to initiate the shift towards an urbanisation based on population demands. This year, the leadership introduced the policy of “rural revitalisation”. The goal is to revive the countryside as a pleasant place to live, improve environmental protection and preserve rural traditions.