Motivation: Unlike other places where resettlement is largely a by-product of large infrastructure projects, in China resettlement is used as a tool for poverty alleviation. With the introduction of Xi Jinping’s Targeted Poverty Alleviation, and the goal to end absolute poverty by 2020, resettlement has become central to China’s poverty-alleviation practice. Rather than investing in dispersed, remote villages, the Chinese government prefers to bring people to development by constructing high-density resettlement sites in small towns and peri-urban areas: up to 16 million people are being resettled between 2016 and 2020. Despite the scale of these interventions, the English-language literature on poverty resettlement is limited and has yet to detail rapidly evolving policies or how these are playing out on the ground. Purpose: In this article we examine how poverty resettlement projects are working under Targeted Poverty Alleviation, with a focus on the implementation and impacts of, as well as overlapping motives for, projects in Shaanxi and Gansu. Approach and Methods: Our analysis draws on semi-structured interviews and secondary data collected in multiple sites in two provinces. Findings: Our findings show that China’s intense focus on resettlement as a tool for poverty alleviation has resulted in reduced financial burdens on those resettled, but is also engendering new conflicts at the local level. Policy implications: Our analysis highlights the contested nature of state-driven resettlement for poverty alleviation and raises questions about the relevance of this practice for other developing countries.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
- development policy
- poverty reduction