Resolving Land Disputes in East Asia: Exploring the Limits of Law
46 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2014
Date Written: February 12, 2014
Land disputes are increasing in East Asia as economic and demographic growth intensifies the demand for farmland and urban spaces. Nowhere is this more evident than in China and Vietnam. Reforms that brought Socialist Asia into the globalized economy and returned private property have also sparked intense competition between farmers and residents with outsiders, such as private developers and government agencies. From a legal perspective, the proliferation of land disputes is puzzling, because it is occurring at the same time as governments in China and Vietnam are clarifying property rights and improving formal dispute resolution institutions, such as the courts. Rather than promoting uniformity, order, and predictability, this paper shows that law reforms have produced mixed results. Land claims and property rights often conflict, producing unpredictable and multi-layered dispute resolution processes. Highly ambiguous and contested patterns of land access persist in these countries. Consequently, courts and administrative agencies such as grand mediation struggle to use property rights to find lasting solutions to land disputes. This paper draws on a body of empirical studies to explore why state laws and institutions struggle to gain the upper hand in many land cases.
Keywords: China, East Asia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, Land Dispute, Courts, Grand Mediation, Land Grabs, Property Rights
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