Acquiring Land Use Rights in Today's China: A Snapshot from on the Ground

UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal, Vol. 24, p. 1, 2006

50 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2006 Last revised: 2 Oct 2008

See all articles by Gregory M. Stein

Gregory M. Stein

University of Tennessee College of Law


For the interested observer of real estate markets, China is the most fascinating place in the world today, and the coming years promise to be no less intriguing than the recent past has been. This Article offers an overview of how a specific segment of the Chinese real estate market - the acquisition of land use rights - operates in practice, from both a legal and business perspective.

I recently interviewed dozens of Chinese and Western experts who are taking part in one of the greatest real estate booms in world history. My conversations with these real estate developers, bankers, government officials, judges, practicing lawyers, consultants, economists, real estate agents, and law and business professors provide acute insights into how China is transforming itself from an economic backwater into a self-styled "socialist market economy."

The fact that Chinese real estate and business laws are still in an early stage of development, the speed with which the Chinese legal and economic systems are evolving, and the strong cultural tradition of reliance on personal relationships rather than rule-of-law principles all demonstrate why a straightforward doctrinal approach would be incomplete and misleading. My goal here is to establish how this particular aspect of Chinese real estate practice is maturing with what appears to be tremendous success against the backdrop of a young legal system.

Keywords: Property, Land Use, Real Estate Finance, Chinese Property Law

JEL Classification: K11, O17, O18, P21, P31, P32

Suggested Citation

Stein, Gregory M., Acquiring Land Use Rights in Today's China: A Snapshot from on the Ground. UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal, Vol. 24, p. 1, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Gregory M. Stein (Contact Author)

University of Tennessee College of Law ( email )

1505 West Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States
865-974-6812 (Phone)


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