Chinese Small Property

Author: Shitong Qiao


Small property houses provide living space to about eight million migrant workers, office space for start-ups, grassroots police stations and public schools; their contribution to the economic growth and urbanization of a city is immense. The interaction between the small property sector and the formal legal order has a long history and small property has become an established engine of social and legal change. Chinese Small Property presents vivid stories about how institutional entrepreneurs worked together to create an impersonal market outside of the formal legal system to support millions of transactions. Qiao uses an eleven-month fieldwork project in Shenzhen – China’s first special economic zone that has grown to a mega city with over fifteen million people – to demonstrate this. A thorough and detailed investigation into small property rights in China, Chinese Small Property is an invaluable source of new information for students and scholars of the field.

About the Author

Shitong Qiao is Assistant Professor of Law at The University of Hong Kong and New York University Global Professor of Law, fall 2017. Qiao graduated from top Chinese and US law schools with numerous prizes, including the Top Academic Prize of Peking University and the Judge Ralph K. Winter Prize of Yale University, Connecticut. He regularly advises government agencies, inside and outside China, on Chinese land regime. His publications on property and social norms have appeared in leading English and Chinese law journals.


‘Can a vibrant real estate market arise in a nation with a stunted legal system? Hernando de Soto famously thought not. Splendidly interweaving field findings with social-scientific theory, Shitong Qiao dismantles the de Soto thesis. In many Chinese cities, booming housing markets have rested largely on informal understandings.’ Robert Ellickson, Walter E. Meyer Professor of Property and Urban Law, Yale Law School ‘In this remarkable book, Shitong Qiao not only illustrates the intricacies of China’s booming periurban land market but also demonstrates how Chinese peasants, together with newly urbanizing industrial workers, have fashioned extensive systems of informal ‘small property’ commercial land transactions, in spite of a legal system that purportedly forbids them. Qiao’s book offers a nuanced discussion of the relationships between law and social norms in Chinese land markets, along with a significant rejoinder to the view that dynamic land markets depend on formal systems of property law.’ Carol M. Rose, University of Arizona ‘A fascinating exploration of the lively housing market that arose in suburban Shenzhen outside the framework of formal law. Based on in-depth field research, Qiao documents the residential building boom, and he then assesses both the strengths and the ultimate limitations of extra-legal arrangements as engines of development.’ Susan Rose-Ackerman, Yale University ‘In this multi-disciplinary work, Qiao has taken Robert Ellickson’s pioneering work on social norms and property rights from rural California to Shenzhen, China, one of the world’s fastest growing, most complex urban markets. In doing so he has demonstrated that much of what we thought we knew about law, property rights, social norms, and development was incomplete at best and flat wrong at worst.’ Frank Upham, Wilf Family Professor of Property Law, New York University School of Law

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SKU: 9781107176232, 1107176239 Category:

Language : English
Published : 2017-10-19
Pages : 242