I was reading about land ownership in China and found an article that described how land ownership works in China. Apparently, land is owned by the Chinese Communist Party, but leases are given to builders and homeowners for durations between 20 and 70 years. Is there any process that a local or foreigner can go through that would allow someone to privately own land in China instead of having to rent it out from Communist Party officials?

  • Surely the article addresses this: "the central government [...] to retain[s] title to the land"
    – James K
    Feb 8, 2020 at 20:02
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    Your article seems to be behind a paywall. The Wikipedia article on “Chinese property law” says: “In general, rural collectives own agricultural land and the state owns urban land. However, Article 70 of The Property Law allows for ownership of exclusive parts within an apartment building, which endorses the individual ownership of apartments.” (I suppose your article is equating the Party with the State, which may be true in practice but perhaps not true in law. I wonder if it mentions collectives and apartment ownership.) Feb 9, 2020 at 7:47
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    In practice, nobody owns any land in Western countries either, as you're forced to pay a tax on your land or risk having it taken away. The distinction is just in semantics. Feb 10, 2020 at 19:29
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    @JonathanReez I would wholeheartedly disagree with that. While you are obliged to pay property taxes on most physical property, the property itself is still yours and yours to do with as you will (absent other regulations). In particular, you may sell the property to whomever you choose. Under something like a land lease model, the Chinese government as legal owner of the land could, for instance, prevent you from transferring the lease on that property to another party (and thus essentially prevent you from selling the house), Feb 10, 2020 at 22:20
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    @StevenStadnicki as an example, in BC the government requires a special tax when selling the property to foreign nationals, so they do get a say in whom you can sell it to and under what conditions. Mostly it's all down to semantics. Feb 10, 2020 at 22:34

1 Answer 1


OrbitalAussie was able to point me towards a good answer. In modern China, Article 39 of he Property Law of the People's Republic of China allows people to use land from property, but they must comply with the laws of the Chinese state. Generally, most land is owned by the state (who possesses urban land) and rural collectives (who are in charge of agricultural land). However, it is possible under Article 70 to own exclusive parts of an apartment building, allowing them to own homes and apartments, but not the land they are on. This has been a recent development in Chinese Communist Part history since earlier versions of the Chinese constitution, such as the one in 1982, forbade private land ownership and only allowed for two forms of ownership:state ownership and collective ownership. So, you can technically own some private property by owning parts of an apartment permanently and some of the area said apartment takes up, but directly owning agricultural and urban land (including the land the apartment you own a portion of is built on) means getting a lease from the state.


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