Land – Still a Source of Instability

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China’s preeminent research center, issued a report today detailing that incidents of protest (or what are called ‘mass incidents’) are increasing.  More than 100,000 mass incidents take place each year, with half of all protests occurring over land disputes.

Land ownership remains a key source of conflict throughout the world.  In China, internal land disputes are common and often violent.  Protest movements operating in the People’s Republic over land issues provide insight into how much urban spaces have been transformed over the past thirty years, how stark the divide between rich and poor has become within the country, and how severely corruption permeates all of Chinese society.  In short, looking at land exposes some of the worse features of today’s China.

As economies develop throughout the NESA region, we should expect these types of disputes to arise there as well – in fact land disputes are on the rise throughout South Asia already.  Observers of international relations have long examined the impact of territorial disputes between countries as a primary source of conflict, but we should not be overlooking the impact internal land disputes can have on the stability of states.


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