In China, the Ultimate Taboo: Land Ownership
In this piece for The New York Times, I look at something that all China-watchers know: the fact that Chinese can't own land.
It affects cities too--the state's absolute control over ownership means it can reshape cities pretty much as it sees fit--but it really hurts farmers. Despite 40 years of reforms meant to mimic a property market, they don't have the ability to leverage their biggest asset--land--for loans, or meaningful rent. The result: China's countryside is largely stagnant, despite an endless array of reforms, initiatives, promises and so on.