Rural-urban transition in China: Illegal land use and construction

Wing Shing Tang*, Him Chung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

94 Citations (Scopus)


This paper takes issue with the desakota model developed by Terry McGee by elucidating the illegal land use and construction in the rural-urban transition zone in China, with the additional case study of Tianhe Village in Guangzhou City. The paper emphasises the need to examine the geography of illegal activities along the approach of geographies of difference. It has shown that illegal land use and construction is prevalent in rural China. In rural areas where cultivated land has been converted to non-agricultural purposes, peasants are left with no alternative but to use land and construct buildings illegally. Some have increased their income by leasing out flats to migrant workers, whereas others have not been able to do this. This study has revealed that underneath the positive and integrative picture portrayed by the desakota model is its negative and disintegrative counterpart. Illegal land use and construction is one such example. Unless we incorporate both into our studies, we will not be able to comprehend the urban morphology of Chinese city regions in the new millennium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-62
Number of pages20
JournalAsia Pacific Viewpoint
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development

User-Defined Keywords

  • Guangzhou
  • Illegal land use and construction
  • Rural-urban transition


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