Victor Shih

China’s local government have been financing their wealth mostly by selling off land. As debts to fuel economic growth rise, more land sales might be on the agenda, tells financial and political analyst Victor Shih in Bloomberg, increasing the gap between rich and poor.


Cities may have to accelerate land sales as they struggle to repay the debt, said Victor Shih, a professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who studies China’s local- government finances. There’s also an incentive for officials to keep payments to farmers as low as possible, he said.

“Without suppressing land compensation, local governments can’t make the margins to pay back the banks,” Shih said. “In essence, they are the engines of inequality in China. Land development is the redistribution of income from average households to rich households.”

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Victor Shih is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch, or fill in our speakers’ request form.

Victor Shih and China’s debts.

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