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UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal


For the interested observer of real estate markets, China is the most fascinating place in the world today, and the coming years promise to be no less intriguing than the recent past has been. This Article offers an overview of how a specific segment of the Chinese real estate market - the acquisition of land use rights - operates in practice, from both a legal and business perspective.

I recently interviewed dozens of Chinese and Western experts who are taking part in one of the greatest real estate booms in world history. My conversations with these real estate developers, bankers, government officials, judges, practicing lawyers, consultants, economists, real estate agents, and law and business professors provide acute insights into how China is transforming itself from an economic backwater into a self-styled "socialist market economy."

The fact that Chinese real estate and business laws are still in an early stage of development, the speed with which the Chinese legal and economic systems are evolving, and the strong cultural tradition of reliance on personal relationships rather than rule-of-law principles all demonstrate why a straightforward doctrinal approach would be incomplete and misleading. My goal here is to establish how this particular aspect of Chinese real estate practice is maturing with what appears to be tremendous success against the backdrop of a young legal system.

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Publication Date

Fall 2006

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