Beyond the Ownership Question

Who Will Till the Land? The New Debate on China's Agricultural Production

Author: Jane Hayward

Abstract:

A high-profile debate is taking place in China concerning the organization of agricultural land and production, with profound implications for China's countryside. This debate is between those advocating for agricultural production to be taken over by large-scale agribusinesses, and those against this. Proponents regard agribusinesses as embodying modernity and progress, while those against forewarn of the channeling of profits out of peasant hands, the loss of peasants' autonomy over labor and land, and the destruction of rural life. Recent English language publications on China's agrarian change highlight the growing power of agribusiness and related processes of depeasantization, implying the Chinese debate on "who will till the land?" is futile. But this view obscures efforts by Chinese scholars and policymakers to promote forms of agricultural organization conducive to maintaining peasant livelihoods. By examining the Chinese debates on agribusinesses, family farms, and cooperatives, this article highlights points of contestation among policymakers and alternative possibilities, which may yet shape the course of China's agrarian change. This article contributes to scholarship on China's agrarian change, broader questions concerning depeasantization, and developmental possibilities under collective ownership.



Download complete article from Taylor & Francis Online

December 2017
© Arthur Jones, PhD