Expropriation in the Name of Rights: Transferable Development Rights (TDRs), the Bundle of Sticks and Chinese Politics

New York University Journal of Law & Liberty, Vol. 13:1, 1-43 (2019).

University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 061

43 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2019 Last revised: 16 Dec 2019

See all articles by Shitong Qiao

Shitong Qiao

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 8, 2019

Abstract

Through an in-depth empirical investigation, this article discloses for the first time how and why land reform programs in the name of empowering and enriching farmers have been serving the purpose of Chinese local governments to compromise the rights revolution in the Chinese national expropriation regime. The concept of “transferable development rights” (TDRs) is simple: development rights from one parcel of land are lifted up and transferred to another. Upon a detailed examination of land tickets in Chongqing and Chengdu, the southwestern Chinese application of TDRs, this article reveals that local governments in both cities have created schemes of land tickets to circumvent the increasingly stringent national regulation of local governments’ expropriation power. But by reframing such practices as for rural rights and welfare, they have successfully gained acquiescence and even approval from the central government, eventually leading to the creation of a national market of land tickets. This case study demonstrates the “maximally protean and easily reformable” nature of the “bundle of sticks” and cautions against expanding the role of TDRs in China’s land reform.

Keywords: Transferable Development Rights (TDRs); Expropriation; Chinese Land Reform; Bundle of Sticks; Land Tickets; Takings; Eminent Domain; Chongqing; Chengdu

JEL Classification: K11; R14; O17; R51; R52; D71

Suggested Citation

Qiao, Shitong, Expropriation in the Name of Rights: Transferable Development Rights (TDRs), the Bundle of Sticks and Chinese Politics (September 8, 2019). New York University Journal of Law & Liberty, Vol. 13:1, 1-43 (2019). ; University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 061. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3449916 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3449916

Shitong Qiao (Contact Author)

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
China

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.hku.hk/faculty/staff/shitong_qiao.php

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