Date of Graduation

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies (MAPS)


College of Arts and Sciences


Asia Pacific Studies

First Advisor

Andrea Lingenfelter

Second Advisor

Brian Komei Dempster


Mao Zedong has played an influential role in Chinese society, whether for better or for worse. His policies have caused ripples throughout contemporary Chinese society, but nothing stronger than his desire for urbanization and economic land reform. Utilizing Mao’s drive for urbanization and economic reform as essential historical context, this paper connects how the contemporary governmental push for urbanization has been unyielding, and, in some ways, counterproductive as decade-old Mao-era institutions reverberate in an echo chamber with cracks that allow darker forces to seep in. Real estate and urban development companies and local governments are given monetary incentive to redevelop land, convert rural land to urban, and build something, anything, in its place, often to the detriment of the people. While Mao strove for economic reform through his initial desire for urbanization, this movement has since lost its original meaning; urbanization for urbanization’s sake has now led to a system driven by the need for modern-day record-breaking profits that is verging on potential economic collapse. While most studies focus on a single era, this paper integrates a diverse array of secondary sources along with first-hand accounts in order to trace the reforms of the hukou system and land development from the 1950s to 2021. This trajectory forms a winding trail that leads to clear explanations—as to how China’s world-renowned economic policies have taken shape and the impact they have had on the country’s people.