The conversion of land to non-agricultural use in China has often been attributed to the demand for land arising from urbanization, that is, a growing urban population and the shift from agricultural to industrial activity. With a focus on Sihui 四会, a county in Guangdong, this study explains land use conversion from an alternative perspective: by looking at the supply of agricultural land for conversion and what determines this supply. It gives precedence to the role of the central actors in the process – local officials – and suggests that the extent to which agricultural land is converted for non-agricultural purposes is determined by an array of structural and agential factors, including the fiscal and land resources at the disposal of local officials, the incentive structure and macro-processes which influence their decision.
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