Orginal Article

Rural restructuring in China: Theory, approaches and research prospect

  • TU Shuangshuang , 1, 2, 3, * ,
  • LONG Hualou , 2, 3, 4
  • 1. Key Laboratory of Environment Change and Resources Use in Beibu Gulf, Guangxi Teachers Education University, the Ministry of Education, Nanning 530001, China
  • 2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • 3. Center for Assessment and Research on Targeted Poverty Alleviation, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • 4. College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

Author: Tu Shuangshuang (1982-), PhD, specialized in rural development and land use. E-mail:

*Corresponding author: Long Hualou (1971-), PhD and Professor, specialized in rural restructuring, urban-rural development and land use transition. E-mail:

Received date: 2017-04-26

  Accepted date: 2017-05-19

  Online published: 2017-09-06

Supported by

The Bagui Scholars Program of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region

National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41571166


Journal of Geographical Sciences, All Rights Reserved


Rural restructuring is a process of reshaping socio-economic morphology and spatial pattern in rural territory in response to the changes of elements both in kernel system and external system of rural development, by optimally allocating and efficiently managing the material and non-material elements in the two systems. It aims at ultimately optimizing the structure and promoting the function within rural territorial system as well as realizing the coordination of structure and complementation of function between urban and rural territorial system. This paper establishes a theoretical framework of rural restructuring through elaborating the concept and connotations as well as analyzing the mechanism pushing forward rural restructuring based on the evolution of “elements-structure-function”, and probes the approaches from the three aspects of spatial restructuring, economic restructuring and social restructuring. Besides, the authors argue that the study of rural restructuring in China in the future needs to focus on the aspects of long-term and multi-scale process and pattern, mechanism, regional models, rural planning technology system and standard, policy and institutional innovations concerning rural restructuring as well as the impacts of globalization on rural restructuring, in order to serve the current national strategic demands and cope with the changes of rural development elements in the process of urban-rural development transformation.

Cite this article

TU Shuangshuang , LONG Hualou . Rural restructuring in China: Theory, approaches and research prospect[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2017 , 27(10) : 1169 -1184 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-017-1429-x

1 Introduction

To some extent, rural restructuring is related to the rural recession along with the globalization and urbanization (Woods, 2005; Hoggart and Paniagua, 2001; Markey et al., 2008; Marsden et al., 1990). Since the 1950s, some developed countries, e.g., Britain, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Germany, have experienced the process of urbanization and anti-urbanization, and the social structure, economic form and ecological environment in rural areas have undergone significant changes and restructuring (Lobley and Potter, 2004; Nelson, 2001; Holmes, 2006; Wilson, 1995). Woods argued that rural restructuring refers to the reshaping of rural socio-economic structure during industrialization and urbanization caused by various interactions of different factors due to the declining of economic significance of agriculture, the rising of the service departments, the reorganization of urban-rural development elements, etc. (Woods, 2011). With the implementation of the national strategy of new-type industrialization and urbanization, especially affected by the globalization and informatization since the new century, the recombination and interaction of socio-economic development elements have changed gradually the traditional characteristics in rural China involving industrial structure, employment mode, consumption structure, land utilization mode, and administrative organization and spatial layout at town and village levels, etc. (Long, 2014; Zhang, 1998), which require local participants (including local government, enterprisers, rural elites and villagers) to make response and readjustment corresponding to the processes and outcomes of changes in socio-economic morphology and regional spatial patterns to realizing rural restructuring (Long, 2012; Long et al., 2012). Based on the practice of rural development in China, Zhang et al. (2006) argued that rural restructuring is one of the rural development strategies as a whole set of economy, society and space for the purpose of realizing urban-rural integrated development.
Currently, rural restructuring in China has increasingly attracted the interest of numerous scholars in various disciplines such as geography, sociology, architecture, management, who have carried out systematic research from different perspectives and spatio-temporal scales, and already obtained a large number of enlightening research outcomes by comprehensively using various methods like case analysis and theoretical research. The main topics range from the spatial evolution of rural settlements (Zhang, 1999; Liu et al., 2009; Long et al., 2009; Qiao, 2011; Lei, 2009; Ma et al., 2012; Fang et al., 2012; Han and Cai, 2011 ), functional differentiation and evolution of rural territory (Liu et al., 2008, 2011a, 2011b; Fang and Liu, 2015; Lin and Cai, 2012; Wang and Li, 2011), the pattern and process of rural development and transformation (Long, 2012; Liu, 2007; Yang et al., 2015; Li et al., 2015a; Long et al., 2007, 2011; Long and Li, 2012), the layout and optimization of rural settlements (Liu et al., 2014; Liu, 2006; Wang et al., 2011; Tang et al., 2014; Yu, 2014), the mechanism and model of rural spatial restructuring in typical regions (Li et al., 2012, 2015b; Feng, 2012; Zhang et al., 2009; Chen et al., 2010; Liu, 2011), the social order change and the remodeling of rural governance system (Wang and Cao, 2011), to the paths of rural restructuring, etc. (Cai, 1999; Li et al., 2013; Liu, 2013, 2014). Recently, Journal of Rural Studies has published a special issue on ‘Rural Restructuring in China’ (Long and Liu, 2016), which highlighted the latest research achievements focusing on the rural restructuring practice in contemporary China, and contains 25 academic papers related to the allocation and management of key resources in rural China, the spatial distribution and optimization of rural settlements, the spatio-temporal changes of urban-rural land use, the transferring of rural labor forces, the allocation of rural educational resources, the declining of traditional rural settlements, dynamic change and spatial transformation in suburban village and other topics.
The process of rural restructuring contains a wide range of transformations, such as the industrial structure, employment mode, the rural settlements morphology and social cultural landscape, the relationships between the urban and the rural as well as agriculture and industry, etc., which determine that rural restructuring is a systematic project in practice. Especially, influenced by special physical and socio-economic conditions, e.g., notable territorial differences, the dual-track structure of urban-rural development and the prominent government intervention, it may exacerbate the volatility and complexity of rural restructuring practice in rural China (Long and Liu, 2016). So, there is an urgent need for probing related theories to guide the practice of rural restructuring in China. The aims of this paper are as follows: (1) to establish the theoretical framework of rural restructuring; (2) to probe the approaches of rural restructuring from the aspects of space, economy and society; (3) to prospect the contents of rural restructuring research in the future, in order to expand the field of rural geography research and guide the practice of China’s rural restructuring; and (4) to provide some implications for future rural restructuring in China.

2 The theoretical framework of rural restructuring

There are two different ways of understanding the connotations of rural restructuring in academic circle: one is regarding it as an evolutionary process of rural territory, focusing on analyzing the various objective features shown in the process; another is taking it as a strategic means of rural development, emphasizing the human intervention to effectively promote the positive evolution of rural areas in a predetermined way (Feng, 2012). Due to the blurring definition, together with the fact that rural restructuring involves various contents, the term of “rural restructuring” has been abused in the available literature, which resulted in related research lacking of hierarchy and rationality, and hampered the further study on rural restructuring. Accordingly, this paper analyzes the concept and connotations of rural restructuring as well as the mechanism promoting rural restructuring from the perspective of the “elements-structure-function” in rural territorial system, so as to establish a theoretical framework of rural restructuring.

2.1 The concept and connotations of rural restructuring

Rural territory is an open system with certain structure and function, which is composed of diversified elements including natural resources endowments, geographical conditions, economic base, human resource, cultural customs, etc. (Long et al., 2016a; Tu et al., 2015). Structurally, rural territorial system is composed of kernel system and external system (Long et al., 2016a). The kernel system of rural territory includes some subsystems, such as natural resources, ecological environment, socio-economic development (Wu, 2001); and the external system consists of the subsystems concerning regional development policies, industrialization and urbanization development levels (Zhang and Liu, 2008). With the advancement of globalization, urbanization, industrialization and informatization, the rural territory continuously exchanges the material, energy and information with external urban system (Wu, 2001). Inevitably, under the integrated effects of the changes of rural development elements, e.g., vast out-flow of rural population, deagriculturalization of industry, low-efficient rural land use, and the external regulation factors, e.g., national policy, market demand and advance of technology, etc. (Tu et al., 2015), there are a variety of interactions between material and non-material elements in the aspects of the production and living behaviors. These interactions will subsequently lead to the changes in employment structure, consumption structure, land use structure and social organization structure (Long et al., 2011, 2016a), and the constantly evolving of the function of rural territorial system in the aspects of living, production, ecology and culture (Tu et al., 2015).
In essence, rural restructuring is a process of reshaping socio-economic morphology and spatial pattern in rural territory in response to the changes of elements both in kernel system and external system of rural development, by optimally allocating and efficiently managing the material and non-material elements in the two systems. It aims at ultimately optimizing the structure and promoting the function within rural territorial system as well as realizing the coordination of structure and complementation of function between urban and rural territorial system (Long et al., 2016a). There is a close relationship between rural restructuring and rural evolution. The process of rural evolution not only refers to the situation of positive promotion, but also means the negative degradation, including slow progress, leap development, transient recession, rejuvenation and other statuses. While rural restructuring is a positive evolution process, which mainly involves two types of cases from the angle of the statuses before and after restructuring: one is the qualitative transformation from recession to revival through effective human intervention for under-developed rural areas; another is a process of upgrading development by taking advantage of the external environment and integrating the internal elements for developed rural areas. Besides, the connotations of rural restructuring are similar to rural development transformation, but there are some differences. Compared with rural development transformation, rural restructuring emphasizes the human intervention and regulation such as integrating critical development elements and optimizing spatial structure with the purpose of changing the rural territorial system from a non-benign state to a benign state, or achieving function upgrading and enhancing the quality of development. In other words, rural restructuring is a process of realizing rural development transformation, and the latter is the result of the former.
Generally, the development and evolution of rural territory occurs in an interaction framework of the kernel system and external system at any time. The intertwined effects of internal and external development elements and the interaction of the subsystems on the rural territory make rural restructuring with the characteristics of comprehensive multidimensionality and temporal evolution (Figure 1).
Figure 1 The concept and connotations of rural restructuring
(1) Comprehensive multidimensionality. Usually, the socio-economic changes are the main storyline of the development of rural territory, and the land use is a mirror of the human socio-economic development. The socio-economic evolution in the rural areas will inevitably change the spatial carrier-land, including its utilization and allocation pattern, and cause rural spatial restructuring (Long, 2014). Therefore, the contents of rural restructuring include spatial restructuring, economic restructuring and social restructuring, three mutually reinforcing and restrictive dimensions.
Initially, as the core of the economic restructuring, industrial cultivation exerts significant impacts on broadening the channels of farmers’ employment, achieving the non-agricultural transfer of surplus labor force, enhancing the value of land use and releasing the land consolidation potential, which can also lay down a material basis for the rural spatial and social restructuring with the enhancement of rural self-development ability (Tu et al., 2015). Additionally, cultivating the social behavioral mainstream of rural development, improving the public service and social security system, inheriting local culture, and narrowing the gap between urban and rural areas not only constitute the important parts of social restructuring, but also become the ultimate goal of rural restructuring. Among the numerous factors affecting rural restructuring, the perfect public service and social security system ensure the effective organization of spatial and economic restructuring. As the most dynamic factor in rural restructuring, social behavioral mainstream can provide intellectual support for rural economic restructuring and push forward rural spatial restructuring via playing a role of organization, coordination and demonstration in the process of restructuring (Tu et al., 2015). Last but not the least, rural space, as the carrier of socio-economic activities, the restructuring of which is of particular significance to provide space for developing scale farm management and non-agricultural industries as well as improving the living conditions and public service facilities via optimizing the town-village hierarchy system and integrating production, living and ecological spaces.
(2) Temporal evolution. The evolution of rural territorial system is a complex nonlinear process, and rural restructuring in certain region may appear fluctuations in a certain period of time. Usually, a complete rural restructuring process usually consists of different development stages divided by different periods, i.e., initial period, developing period, stabilizing period and maturing period (Figure 1). However, with the changes of internal elements and external demands in rural areas, it is possible for rural territory to start a new round of evolution and restructuring process.
As a result of the comprehensive influences of natural resources endowments, economic basis, technical level and other factors, the process of rural restructuring takes on regional differences in terms of experiencing stage and its stage characteristics. In some rural areas, the initial period may last a long period failing to enter the next stage of rural restructuring due to lack of driving force of restructuring, or the restructuring process may appear the end just after the initial period. On the contrary, it is possible for parts of the rural areas not to go through the initial period, and directly jump into the developing period, which presents the characteristics of cross-stage in the process of restructuring. Rural restructuring in different stages has its typical characteristics and mechanism. It is necessary to take human intervention to boost the whole process of restructuring through grasping the characteristics of different stages and the temporal evolution rules of rural restructuring.

2.2 The mechanism pushing forward rural restructuring based on the evolution of “elements-structure-function”

During 1990-2014, China’s urbanization rate rose from 26.41% to 54.77%, with an annual increase rate of 1.18% (NBSC, 1991, 2015), and the continuous out-flow of rural population is one of the major driving forces of rapid urbanization. According to the Peasant Laborer Monitoring Report in 2014, the total number of migrant workers in China was 274 million, and the average age of migrant workers was 38.3 years old, of which 20-49 years old migrant workers accounted for 79.4%. With the continual boost of rapid urbanization, the evolution of “elements-structure-function” of rural territory has broken utterly the traditional spatial structure and socio-economic forms in rural China, which triggers rural restructuring.
Affected by the rising opportunity cost of farming owing to non-agricultural employment of rural population, coupled with the influence of increasingly high cost of grain-growing, the economic value of farmland has been reduced relatively (Long et al., 2016a), which has caused regional deagriculturalization, non-grain preference and extensive utilization of farmland, and many of the plentiful commodity grain producing base has irreversibly evolved into urbanized areas as a consequence (Long, 2014). Along with the outflow of massive rural population, the rural housing land has not shrunk as expected due to the urban-rural dual institutional barriers in household registration, land use policy and social security, together with the undefined collective property rights (Long et al., 2007). Instead, the issue of derelict, abandoned and inefficient use of rural housing land has become increasingly prominent in rural China (Long, 2014), which has further generated obstacles for the layout of the industry, the optimization of public infrastructure and the allocation of social services. With the change of production elements like labor force, technology and so on, there is an urgent need to reallocate the land use right among different management mainstream. However, hampered by underdeveloped non-agricultural industries, the fragmentation of cultivated land and unclear property rights of rural land, it is difficult to realize the transfer and large-scale management for farmland, as well as reuse and circulation for vacant and derelict rural housing land (Long et al., 2016a). In addition, water and soil are contaminated and damaged rapidly in some rural areas owing to the disordered layout of township and village enterprises, less strict control of pollutants emission and the improper handling of agricultural production and living pollution in the past years, which has directly resulted in the severe deterioration of the rural ecological space (Long, 2014). In a word, the spatial morphology of rural China takes on a trend of decentralization of living space, disordering of production space and deterioration of ecological space.
Under the background of the reducing of farmland resource and the decreasing of grain production, as well as the negative effects of large-scale outflow and concurrent occupation of rural labor force on manpower input and science-technology popularizing of agricultural development, the traditional function of agricultural production in some areas has been gradually declined (Liu, 2011). At the same time, the rural industry has presented non-agricultural and diversified trends. With the acceleration of the flow of economic elements between urban and rural areas as well as different regions, labor-intensive industries have emerged in certain rural areas with good location and better economic base. Especially in recent years, some villages, relying on the original ecological rural and natural landscape together with the varied traditional customs, take advantage of location being adjacent to the famous scenic spots or urban edge to develop rural tourism, the ecological function and cultural function have become increasingly prominent in those rural areas (Tu et al., 2015). Accompanied with the evolution of economic forms, production functions of rural territory have transformed from the traditional single agricultural production gradually to the industrial, leisure services and other multifunction accordingly.
The continuous unilateral outflow of rural labor has changed the population structure (mainly including the age, gender, education level) in the rural areas, which further resulted in the problems such as aging population, low-educated labor force, lack of talents and the decline of grassroots organizations in rural areas (Long et al., 2016a). Meanwhile, with the changes of marginal productivity brought about by the introduction of new production tools (Long et al., 2016a), various forms of moderate-scale agricultural management, such as helping to plough and sow, land trusteeship and stock cooperation, are gradually developing, which greatly promote the emergence of family farms, professional investors, farmer professional cooperatives and other new business entities. The phenomenon shows that the differentiation of social class is increasingly apparent in rural China. According to the statistical data from the Ministry of Agriculture, there were 877 thousand family farms totally in China by the end of 2012, with operating cultivated land 11.7 million ha, accounting for 13.4% of China’s total farmland. The average management scale of family farm reached 13.3 ha, and was nearly 27 times that of contracted farmland per household in China (Long et al., 2016a).
To summarize, under the background of globalization, industrialization, urbanization and informatization, elements-structure-function of rural territory have undergone dramatic evolution triggered by the flow of urban-rural development elements, the innovation of production tools, the change of dominated economic value and the national existing policy system, which profoundly changed the spatial pattern, economic forms and social relations in rural areas, and inevitably brought about a series of challenges to the sustainable rural development. To cope with the changes and outcomes, it is urgent for the local participants to take actions timely to restructure rural space, economy and society through integrating elements, recombining structure and optimizing function in rural territorial system (Yang et al., 2015), and ultimately build a new platform to promote the implementation of new-type urbanization, agricultural modernization and other national strategies concerning integrated urban-rural development.

3 Approaches of rural restructuring

Based on the above theoretical framework, rural restructuring in practice is a systematic project, involving three aspects, i.e., spatial restructuring, economic restructuring and social restructuring, the approaches of which are described as follows:

3.1 Spatial restructuring

The scattered spatial distribution of Chinese traditional rural settlements and the phenomenon of idle rural housing land at present have affected the flowing process of production elements, and increased the cost of economic development considerably (Long et al., 2016a, 2016b). Moreover, owing to lacking of scale benefit and output efficiency for public resources investment, the allocation of educational, medical and public infrastructures have been insufficient in some parts of rural China, which has exerted the far-reaching influences to the production space, living space and ecological space in rural China (Long, 2014). Rural spatial restructuring is a process of achieving optimal adjustment and even fundamental change of rural territorial space by optimizing town-village spatial system and restructuring the rural production, living and ecological spaces (Long, 2014; Long et al., 2016a).
(1) Establishing town-village spatial system at county level. Rural spatial restructuring initially relies on constructing the spatial agglomeration axis and the structure network of town-village planning taking into account the overall rural settlements scale, traffic network, regional cooperation, industrial development, employment characteristics, farming radius, the services scope of public facilities and other factors, which contribute to forming a three-level rural settlements system composed of central town, major town and central village for the purpose of strengthening the effective convergence and mutual support of the urban-rural territory in the aspects of space and function (Long et al., 2016a). Moreover, considering the node role of central town and major town in the energy transmission chain of urban-rural territorial system, there should be a greater concern to accelerate the restructuring of central town and major town, by intensifying the cultivation of characteristic industry, improving public service facilities as well as enhancing comprehensive service function, in order to strengthen economic agglomeration function and exert the radiation and driving roles in the development of rural hinterland (Long et al., 2016a).
(2) Restructuring the production, living and ecological spaces at village level. Taking the spatial distribution characteristics of scattered, idle and disordered rural settlements into account, it is necessary to probe the diversified regional models of pushing forward rural settlements spatial restructuring, such as agglomeration model through village relocation and combination, intensive model through village inner integration and preservation model for characteristic village, according to natural environment, socio-economic development, cultural customs and other features of territorial differences. After that, more attentions are needed to be paid to strengthen rural infrastructure construction through the scientific assessment on the allocation suitability of public facilities and infrastructures in order to optimize a livable rural space (Long et al., 2016a). In view of the status quo of the fragmentation of cultivated land operation and the disorderly distribution of township enterprises, promoting the construction of large-scale high standard basic farmland as well as strengthening the centralized layout of non-agricultural industry is an effective way to restructure intensive and efficient rural production space, which have been favored to provide spaces for the development of modern agriculture and the cultivation of new rural economic forms (Long, 2014).
Besides, it is significant to restructure the environment friendly and rural ecological space harmoniously by gradually implementing pollution-free agricultural production, establishing ecological interception system, strengthening the comprehensive treatment of pollutants, improving ecosystem corridor and other means (Long et al., 2016a), so as to provide healthy and beautiful rural ecological space for the rural industrial development and rural residents.

3.2 Economic restructuring

Owing to its close correlation with absorbing rural employment, increasing farmers’ income, improving land use efficiency and building rural infrastructures etc., the prosperity of rural economy usually plays a leading role in realizing rural spatial and social restructuring. Therefore, remodeling the new impetus of rural economic development, with industrial cultivation as the core, is the fundamental issue to be solved in rural restructuring (Long et al., 2016a). While rural economic reshaping rests on opening up the flow channels of urban-rural development elements, so as to make internal system of rural territory full of vitality and generate output value (unique rural culture, eco-environment amenity) to external system (urban areas) (Zhao, 2013). Under the background of the changes of intrinsic development elements, as well as the emergence of new technologies and new economic modes, it is an indispensable way to reshape the rural economy by making full use of the new elements of economic development, innovating rural traditional industries and cultivating new rural economic forms.
(1) Innovating rural traditional industries. Chinese traditional agriculture has the features of decentralized management, inefficient production and low organization level, which led to lack of competitiveness with the advance of international allocation of the agricultural products in the context of globalization. Consequently, it is calling for urgently innovating rural traditional industries through optimizing agricultural industrial structure (the proportion of the planting, animal husbandry, forestry, fishery and other production departments), product structure (e.g., the ratio of grain, oil, vegetables, fruits and other products) and variety and quality structure (the proportion of different variety types, e.g., durum wheat and ordinary wheat), as well as accelerating the construction of agricultural product market information system, quality standard system and quarantine system, so as to facilitate the establishment of modern agricultural industrial system. Moreover, it is essential to strengthen the organic combination of production, post-processing, market circulation and brand cultivation, so as to realize the specialization, standardization, intensive and large-scale production by promoting the ownership registration and certification issuing of rural contracted farmland, actively developing various forms of moderate-scale management, supporting leading enterprises and characteristic industrial bases, and establishing the benefit sharing mechanism that connects leading enterprises with farmer cooperation and peasants (Long et al., 2016a, 2016b). At the same time, great attention should be paid to protect the water and soil resources, which are the foundation of agricultural production, and promote the key technology such as new varieties of breeding, cultivation, soil conservation, water-saving irrigation, disaster reduction and prevention etc., so as to form a modern science and technology support system guaranteeing the safety of national grain production and the quality of agricultural products.
(2) Actively fostering new forms of rural industry. Owing to its high vegetation coverage, low-density population distribution as well as the main preservation of traditional and regional culture, cultural and ecological functions should be emphasized in the process of industrial reshaping in rural areas (Tu et al., 2015). Currently, to cope with the demands of personalized and diversified consumption market, exporting rural cultural and production elements with scarce value to the urban (Zhao, 2013), is of great importance to activating the rural economic system. Taking the differences between urban and rural as well as the multi-functional value of rural areas into account, it is suggested that new forms of rural industry like providing services for retired and old people, preserving people’s health, as well as eco-tourism industry should be encouraged strongly in order to pour vitality and power into rural economic revitalization (Long et al., 2016a).

3.3 Social restructuring

Accompanied with the advance of rapid urbanization as well as the implementation of village relocation and combination, China’s traditional village community characterized by agricultural civilization, acquaintance society and clan relations have been disassembled, and rural social development is facing the decline of autonomous organization, the weakening of rural management mainstream and the disappearance of cultural memory symbols (Long et al., 2016a). Especially along with the cancellation of the agricultural tax nationwide in 2006, the public affairs service function of rural grassroots administrative organization taking the village committee and the villagers’ congress system as the mainstream, has been further weakened (Long et al., 2016a). Therefore, it is crucial to restructure rural society by means of establishing the rural organization system, cultivating new-type rural management mainstream, and protecting the characteristic rural cultural landscape.
(1) Improving the rural organization system, and cultivating new-type rural development mainstream. To some extent, the rural rejuvenation depends on giving full play to the autonomy function of grassroots governance mainstream through establishing diversified rural organization system, such as village committee, economic industrial organizations, social intermediary organizations, public service organizations, etc. (Zhang, 2009; Long et al., 2016a). In particular, it should pay more attention to innovating the village cadres’ selection system by encouraging local elite to govern the village, which would not only contribute to improving the management ability of the rural autonomous organization, but also help to promoting rural economic development. At the same time, the perfecting of the rural governance organization also relies on the establishment of the balance mechanism of rural democracy at the grassroots through building the villagers’ congress system, so as to effectively play the participation and supervision role of farmers in public affairs and administrative management (Zhang, 2009). Facing to the new problems of weakening traditional agricultural management mainstream as well as the new situation of farmers differentiation, it is urgent to speed up the system construction to develop a new-type professional farmer (Zhang, 2009), so as to actively cultivate the new management mainstream engaged in modern agricultural production (Long et al., 2016a). Additionally, it is also important to strengthen the policy support for fostering various types of rural elite, e.g. developing normalized training mechanism by giving full play the role of entrepreneurial guidance of civil economic organizations to rural elites, as well as guaranteeing the legitimate rights of rural entrepreneurs by forming the equity incentive and other related benefit sharing mechanism, which are beneficial to play all kinds of rural talents’ demonstration and leading effects on entrepreneurship development (Long et al., 2016a).
(2) Protecting the unique rural cultural landscape, and enhancing the rural cultural function. The formation of cultural landscape is influenced deeply by various factors like natural environment, production mode and social culture. As the carrier of regional culture as well as the “fossil” of social and cultural evolution in a certain period, characteristic rural settlements and folk customs exhibit the function of cultural heritage in rural areas. Therefore, protecting the rural material and non-material cultural landscape, particularly the traditional rural settlements, is an effective way to conserve the historical and cultural context, inherit rural memory and retain nostalgia (Liu, 2015). As for the protection of rural cultural landscape, on the one hand, it is essential to strengthen the guidance of related law, policies, planning and management mechanism at national level, e.g. speeding up the formulation of the policies and documents regulating the implementation range of village relocation and combination as soon as possible, compiling scientific planning based on the principle of obeying different types and grades as well as constructing the financing mechanism and the normalized regulatory mechanism to protecting the characteristic villages. On the other hand, it should highlight the significance of developing cultural and creative industries by taking advantage of characteristic rural culture on the basis of improving support ability of infrastructure construction and public service, which is an inevitable approach to seeking the economic driving force to protect characteristic culture, and also meet the emotional attachment and spiritual needs for traditional rural culture, local memories and rural nostalgia (Liu, 2015).

4 Research prospect

Aiming at resolving the realistic dilemma brought about by the rapid urban-rural development transformation, the study of rural restructuring in the future needs to pay more attentions to the following aspects:
(1) Process and pattern of long-term and multi-scale rural restructuring. Geography emphasizes the research on the spatial distribution pattern and temporal evolution process of geographical elements (Cai, 2011; Fu, 2014), which involve time and space scales. Exploring the spatial distribution law and the temporal evolution law of geographical elements at different time and space scales, is conducive to provide scientific basis for simulating and predicting the development trend of geographical matter and taking appropriate human intervention to ensure its development along the expected path. The study of rural restructuring needs to focus on the process and pattern of restructuring from the perspectives of elements mobility, structural optimization and functional evolution, and explore the characteristics of spatial distribution and temporal evolution of the typical region, county, town and village, respectively, and reveal the laws of spatial distribution and temporal evolution at different time and space scales.
(2) Mechanism of rural restructuring. Interactively influenced by various factors such as natural environment, socio-economic development, historical and cultural features, macro-regional policies, etc., the mechanism of rural restructuring driven by the interaction of the internal and external factors in rural territory, is significantly diversified in different regions and at different periods. It is necessary to identify the main controlling factors and dynamic mechanism from the perspective of “elements-structure-function”, based on analyzing different types of factors affecting rural restructuring, i.e., the endogenous factors and exogenous factors as well as subjective factors and objective factors, to explore the interactive rules of internal and external factors, to comparatively analyze the relationship between the process and the mechanism of rural restructuring at different time and space scales, and to summarize the general law and mechanism of rural restructuring.
(3) Regional models of rural restructuring. The models of rural restructuring refer to the theoretical summary of the development path with distinct characteristics and relative stability, which reflect the interaction law of elements and the mode of economic operation. The formation of rural restructuring is influenced by natural resources, economic development, productivity level, historical tradition, government behavior and other factors. Considering the terrain conditions, the economic development level and the models of industrial development, e.g., the models in plain areas, mountainous and hilly areas, metropolitan suburbs, developed areas or underdeveloped areas, as well as the models led by modern agriculture or driven by industrial development, it is important to research different types of models of rural restructuring by comparatively analyzing the internal and external factors, the operating mechanism, basic characteristics, obstacles and regulatory path so as to provide useful reference for the practice of rural restructuring in other similar regions.
(4) Rural planning technology system and standard. At present, the technologies at national level guiding rural restructuring in China involve Standards for Town Planning (GB50188-2007) and Technical Specification for Village Consolidation (GB50445-2008). Due to lacking of effective guidance for rural restructuring aiming at various territorial types, phases and capacities of rural development, the cohesion and complementarity should be emphasized in arranging the restructuring project, such as the rural residential system adjustment, industrial development and the public facilities allocation. As a consequence, aiming at the key technologies and fields such as rural spatial planning, public infrastructure configuration and industrial cultivation, it is an urgent need to carry out integration and demonstration research through multidisciplinary cooperation concerning geography, sociology, architecture and other disciplines, and ultimately form a series of the technology standards and operating specification of rural planning for different territory types and developing phases (Long et al., 2016a), so as to provide technical support for the management of rural restructuring practice.
(5) Policy and institutional innovations of rural restructuring. Currently, a series of prominent issues concerning China’s rural development, e.g., weakening behavior mainstream, low-efficient land use and insufficient infrastructure, are closely related to the defective institution and policy. Meanwhile, rural restructuring in the aspects of space, economy and society, has direct or indirect connection with land use, finance, social security and other institutions of resources allocation, which constitute the macro policy environment of rural restructuring (Long et al., 2016a). Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the research on policy support system for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of resource utilization and promoting the orderly flow of the production elements in the practice of rural restructuring, and provide scientific basis for restructuring the contours of state intervention in rural societies and economies (Woods, 2012; Long et al., 2016a).
(6) The impacts of globalization on rural restructuring. Rural China is constantly being integrated into the global socio-economic network, and the internationalization of production elements configuration like goods, capital and labor force, has exerted tremendous influences on the economy, society and culture in rural China. For instance, the influx of agricultural products with super quality has brought about gigantic lash to traditional agriculture, the globalization of capital market has further exacerbated the deagriculturalization of agricultural population and rural land, and the expansion of global culture and modern technology has led to a double effects on Chinese countryside, which make rural China not only face the transformation from traditional agricultural society to modern industrial and urbanized society, but also face the risk of losing local culture and national culture (Long et al., 2016a). It is necessary to fully understand the impacts of globalization on China’s rural restructuring and to strengthen the relevant research.

5 Discussion and conclusions

5.1 Discussion

Undoubtedly, China’s rural restructuring is deeply influenced by the macro strategy of national socio-economic development. Since 2004, the central government has implemented a series of measures and policies, e.g., the “Building New Countryside”, the “Construction of Beautiful Villages”, the “Transfer of Management Right of Contracted Land in Rural Areas” and the “Linking up Increased Urban Construction Land with Decreased Rural Construction Land” for the purpose of facilitating the orderly flow and optimal utilization of scarce resources as well as promoting rural spatial, economic and social restructuring. To some extent, the government-led top-down rural restructuring policies have been in favor of improving the living environment for rural resident, enhancing the economic efficiency of land resource and establishing platform for the development of modern agriculture and non-agricultural industries. However, it has also brought about some negative effects in practice.
In terms of rural spatial restructuring, it puts too much emphasis on increasing disposable land quotas for urban construction through dismantling decentralized rural settlements and constructing high-rise building in the practice of massive rural relocation and combination, but less taking into account the convenience of living and production for rural residents, which resulted in the dislocation and contradiction between top-down arrangement of spatial restructuring and the actual needs of grassroots. Besides, the stereotyped new community construction overlooks the traditional culture and territorial differences, which makes traditional rural settlements culture facing the risk of loss. As for economic restructuring, in recent years, Chinese government encourages the industrial and commercial capital to engage in the large-scale planting and breeding industries in countryside. Numerous industrial and commercial capital takes advantages of capital and technology to develop large-scale agricultural management, which not only facilitates the agricultural transformation, but also infringes the market shares of small-scale households, generating a crowding-out effect in some rural areas (Zhang, 2014; Long et al., 2016a). Besides, due to lacking of comprehensive considerations of the complementarity of “population-land-industry” rural development elements and systematic understanding of “production-living-ecological” rural spatial restructuring, there universally exists the phenomenon of highlighting building new houses but ignoring industrial cultivation and self-development capacity building of social behavior mainstream in practice.
Accordingly, it is necessary to re-examine the value and target orientation of rural restructuring. As for the factors affecting rural development, natural resources endowments as the prerequisite, economic foundation as the material base, and local residents’ needs as the ultimate goal, all of which are the indispensable elements promoting sustainable rural development. Besides, owing to the high vegetation coverage and the reservation of traditional culture and regional culture, the cultural function and ecological function are the unique value of rural areas, which are different from the city. Therefore, based on the value and target orientation of improving the economic efficiency, maintaining social equity, protecting the ecological environment and promoting the sustainable resources utilization, it needs to actively probe the differentiated models of industrial development, spatial restructuring and social governance, via coordinating the relationships among industrial development and environmental protection, new community construction and public services allocation, and rural spatial restructuring and cultural inheritance.

5.2 Conclusions

Rural restructuring is a process of reshaping socio-economic morphology and spatial pattern in rural territory in response to the changes of elements both in kernel system and external system of rural development, by optimally allocating and efficiently managing the material and non-material elements in the two systems. It aims at ultimately optimizing the structure and promoting the function within rural territorial system as well as realizing the coordination of structure and complementation of function between urban and rural territorial system. The intertwined effects of internal and external development elements and the interaction of the subsystems on the rural territory make the rural restructuring with the characteristics of comprehensive multidimensionality and temporal evolution.
With the continual boost of rapid urbanization, the evolution of “elements-structure-function” of rural territory has broken utterly the traditional spatial structure and socio-economic forms in rural China, which triggers rural restructuring and brings about a series of challenges to sustainable rural development. It is urgent for the local participants to take actions timely to restructure rural space, economy and society through integrating elements, recombining structure and optimizing function in rural territorial system. Accordingly, the approaches of rural restructuring include the three aspects of spatial restructuring, economic restructuring and social restructuring.
Aiming at resolving the realistic dilemma brought about by the rapid urban-rural development transformation, the study of rural restructuring in the future needs to pay more attentions to the aspects of long-term and multi-scale process and pattern, mechanism, regional models, rural planning technology system and standard, policy and institutional innovations concerning rural restructuring as well as the impacts of globalization on rural restructuring, in order to serve the current national strategic demands and cope with the changes of rural development elements in the process of urban-rural development transformation.

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Cai Y, 1999. Geographical study on sustainable agriculture and rural development.Advance in Earth Sciences. 14(6): 602-606. (in Chinese)Sustainable agriculture and rural development has been the worldwide concern,and particularly important for China.Geography should have its own perspectives,theories and methodologies for studying this topic.Directing the key issues faced by the sustainable agriculture and rural development of China,and linked with international experiences and the sustainable factors in Chinese traditional agriculture,geography should research the transformation mechanism of sustainable agriculture and rural development.Based upon natural structure and focusing on the human land relationship,geography should search,at the regional scale,the indicators,approaches and regional models of sustainable agriculture and rural development.In this way,geography can provide regional strategies and operationalizing measures for China in implementing the transformations from planned economy to market economy and from extensive management to intensive management,and the strategies of sustainable development and science education promotion.

Cai Y, 2011. Understanding environmental change planning sustainable development: Development directions for geography in China.Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 26(4): 390-398. (in Chinese)Geography study environmental change,the coupled human-environment systems and inter-reactions in time and space.It aims to plan the approaches to sustainable development.Geography is diversity in topics,methods and philosophical-ethical positions.The key lies in mastering such kind of diversities,and it is full of vitality and fascination of geography.The concerns of geography are becoming the core topics for discussion of science and society.Geography will make more and more important contributions for these.This paper also sums up the development trends of contemporary geography,expounds the development objectives,and proposes the major research fields for the future


Chen Y, Sun H, Liu Y, 2010. Reconstruction models of hollowed villages in key agricultural regions of China.Acta Geographica Sinica, 65(6): 727-735. (in Chinese)lt;p>Hollowed villages emerged during rural eco-social development transition in China. It caused waste and inefficiency of rural land use and became an obstruction to rural eco-social development. It was of great significance for rational land allocation and new countryside construction to intensify researches on reconstructing hollowed village. Current reconstruction models of hollowed villages usually gave insufficient consideration to peasant's willingness so that some unwanted consequences were caused. In view of the facts, we developed reconstruction models of hollowed villages combining national strategies and peasant's willingness in this paper. Yucheng County of Shandong Province in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain was chosen as a case to study reconstruction models of hollowed villages. Forty-eight villages and 401 peasant households were sampled to investigate village emptying processes and peasants' willingness for reconstructing hollowed villages. The survey results revealed pervasive problems of small village size, many disused residence sites, decentralized village distribution, short of development planning and public establishment, as well as eagerly willingness of peasants for reconstructing hollowed villages. Three hollowed village reconstruction models, &quot;urbanization leading model&quot; &quot;central village merger model&quot; and &quot;intra-village intensification model&quot; were proposed for different types of hollowed villages by guidelines of establishing new city-countryside relationship and pushing rural space restructuring and resources integration based on peasants' willingness and value judgment of rural development. This study provides a case study of reconstruction models of hollowed villages for other main farming areas such as Northeast China Plain, Middle and Lower Yangtze Valley Plain, and Sichuan Basin.</p>


Fang Y, Liu J, 2015. Diversified agriculture and rural development in China based on multifunction theory: Beyond modernization paradigm.Acta Geographica Sinica, 2015, 70(2), 257-270. (in Chinese)lt;p>There is a big gap between general rural modernization paradigm and huge empirical rural geography studies. This gap results in impotent development strategies on regionally differentiated countryside. Based on multifunctional agriculture theory and multifunctional rural theory which emerged in Western World as a new paradigm, this paper discusses the multiple objectives, differentiated pathways and policies of agriculture and rural development in China. Firstly, this paper reflects the problems and challenges caused by modernization paradigm in rural China on economic, social, and environmental aspects, as well as that of western developed countries. It can be concluded that conventional agricultural and rural modernization is developed largely at the expense of rural environment, social fabric and economic viabilities. Obviously, "modernization development paradigm" alone is not enough for healthy agricultural and rural development in such booming economy as China. A better paradigm should be developed which takes economic development, social justice and environmental sustainability into account at the same time. After a brief review of multifunctional agriculture theory and multifunctional rural theory overseas, the multiple objectives of agriculture and rural development in China are put forward. These multiple objectives, however, should not and could not be a burden on rural space indiscriminatingly due to the enormous differentiation of natural and socio-economic conditions. Thus, the final but main part of this paper envisions the differentiated pathways and policy portfolios of agricultural and rural development in China from the perspective of territorial division.</p>


Fang Y, Mei L, Liu Jet al., 2012. Vernacular dwellings evolution in agricultural villages of Heibei-Shandong-Henan province in the past 30 years.Geographical Research, 31(2): 220-233. (in Chinese)Based on photograph,ichnography,interviews,questionnaire survey and statistical analysis methods,this paper discusses the evolution and mechanisms of vernacular dwellings in agricultural villages in the past 30 years by selecting three villages with different natural-human characteristics in Hebei,Shandong and Henan provinces as the detailed case studies. Generally speaking,the outer appearances of vernacular dwellings such as the house facade,building materials and technologies have been modernized and de-localized generation after generation.The inner patterns of vernacular dwellings has been specialized and segregated by age,activity and gender gradually,at the same time,the living space has been strengthened even over-developed continually;the agricultural space was regenerated and reorganized at first and then weakened owing to the increase of peasants' non-agricultural job opportunities and incomes;the kitchen,bathroom and granary have been gradually moved from yard to main house.The above-mentioned evolution processes can be divided into four periods in detail. As far as the relationship between generations of vernacular dwellings and household socio-economic characteristics is concerned,demographic characteristics of househols are the important driving force for the difference of generations,which is correlated with household income,and the migration of household members has obvious effects on it also. Some special traits of vernacular dwellings evolution in the case villages are produced by traditional culture,rural institution of property and distribution,and the urbanization process.The vitality of traditional culture remains so strong that many of its symbols are represented vastly by the modern materials in current vernacular dwellings.The collectively-owned but equally distributed farmland makes the household population and household life-cycle become the determinants for household income disparities and indirectly leads to the difference of vernacular dwellings in agricultural villages.The amphibious migration of rural labor promotes the diffusion of industrialized artifacts,technology and life style in agricultural villages,which,however,results in the lavish construction of vernacular dwellings at the same time.


Feng J, 2012. Rural Restructuring: Models and Innovations. Beijing: The Commercial Press. (in Chinese)

Fu B, 2014. The integrated studies of geography: Coupling of patterns and processes.Acta Geographica Sinica, 69(8): 1052-1059. (in Chinese)Geography is a subject which perceptibly reveals integration and regionalism. The integration means that the diversiform subjects in which geography is involved, and that the regionalism of geography is reflected by the regional differentiation. Through the comprehensive study of the interrelationships among the constituent elements of earth system and the relationship between natural and human systems, it helps us understand the variations of the past, present and future of earth system, and grasp the essence of these changes. Pattern helps us to understand the external features of the world and the process is conducive to the understanding of the internal biophysical mechanism of the world. On the basis of field observations and long- term comprehensive surveys, coupling of patterns and processes at different spatiotemporal scales is an effective way to understand and solve the problems in the field of geography. By analysis of the case studies in the Loess Plateau, the methods of coupling the patterns and processes in the integrated research of geography are discussed and explored.


Han F, Cai J, 2011. The evolution and reconstruction of peri-urban rural habitat in China.Geographical Research, 30(7): 1271-1284. (in Chinese)In the process of rapid urbanization,Chinese rural habitats in peri-urban areas are facing or experiencing unprecedented evolvement and transformation.Therefore,how to inherit,protect and develop rural culture is on the agenda,meanwhile how to make reasonable village planning is becoming a great theme.This paper firstly discusses the basic characteristics,evolution and development types of peri-urban rural habitats.Then,based on these results,it strives to study its development mechanism and reconstruction paths.In conclusion,the paper takes Mentougou District in Beijing as an example.The results showed that peri-urban rural habitats experienced three evolution phases,namely traditional homogeneous morphology,promiscuous morphology in the early period of transformation,and functional zoning in the late period of transformation.They are facing with differentiatation and recombination,which can be realized by three types of reconstruction paths,such as reformed by urbanization,housing removal and reconstruction,and preserving development.Three types of rural development pattern can be summarized, rural community dominated by inner-suburban agricultural(rural) multi-functionality,agriculture specialized village dominated by agricultural specialization production and folk-custom village dominated by eco-tourism.


Hoggart K, Paniagua A, 2001. What rural restructuring?Journal of Rural Studies, 17(1): 41-62.

Holmes J, 2006. Impulses towards a multifunctional transition in rural Australia: Gaps in the research agenda.Journal of Rural Studies, 22(2): 142-160.The direction, complexity and pace of rural change in affluent, western societies can be conceptualized as a multifunctional transition, in which a variable mix of consumption and protection values has emerged, contesting the former dominance of production values, and leading to greater complexity and heterogeneity in rural occupance at all scales. This transition is propelled by three dominant driving forces, namely: agricultural overcapacity; the emergence of market-driven amenity values; and growing societal awareness of sustainability and preservation issues. Australia's generous supply of land and sparse investment in agriculture has facilitated local transitions towards enhanced consumption and protection values, enabling a clearer delineation of emerging differentiated modes of rural occupance than in more contested locales. In Australia seven distinctive modes of occupance can be identified, according to the relative precedence given to production, consumption or protection


Lei Z, 2009. Conformation and Restructuring: Study on Transformation of Rural Habitat in the Guanzhong Area. Nanjing: Dongnan University Press. (in Chinese)

Li H, Zhang X, Wu Qet al., 2015b. Characteristics and mechanism of rural settlements spatial reconstruction in developed areas: A case study of southern Jiangsu.Journal of Natural Resources, 30(4): 591-603. (in Chinese)Rural settlement geography is an important field of rural geography research, and rural reconstruction is the new content of rural settlement geography research. The paper tries to enrich the theory and practice of rural geography through the concept, characteristics and mechanism of rural settlement space reconstruction. The main research conclusions are as follows:1) The dynamic mechanism of Southern Jiangsu rural settlement space reconstruction is under the common function of different factors, such as the country self-renewal and external factors.In different stages of transformation, the spatial patterns and the mechanism of rural settlements are different. On that basis, the paper has constructed dynamic mechanism of the rural settlement space reconstruction, and clarified the dominant forces and spatial morphological characteristics in various stages. In the context of urbanization, various internal and external factors affect the rural settlement space reconstructing, causing the spatial pattern of rural settlements to change periodically. 2) Based on the transformation of different stages, the dominant force and spatial forms of settlement in the transition of Southern Jiangsu rural settlement space reconstruction formed three modes: hooked model between urban and rural areas, rural self-renewal mode and new country construction model. The connotation and space characteristics of different models are different. In the future, beautiful rural settlement space mode should be accomplished. It should be fully accommodated with natural environment which provides livable space for residents; match the agriculture and industry production which makes intensive and efficient production space; adapt to the social and economic development so as to realized the integration of urban and rural areas; be consistent with the policy regulation to obtain the fairness and justice of the rural space. 3) The path of rural settlements reconstruction is the reconstruction of urban and rural resources. The future of rural settlements should be ecological space, intensive space, co-ordinate space and justicial space. Through the research of rural settlement space reconstruction of Southern Jiangsu in transitional period, this paper may provide theoretical reference and practice for the rural development and the rural settlement spatial transformation in the rest of China.

Li T, Long H, Liu Yet al., 2015a. Multi-scale analysis of rural housing land transition under China’s rapid urbanization: The case of Bohai Rim.Habitat International, 48: 227-238.61Distribution of rural housing land was characterized by vertical zonality.61Distribution of rural housing land was more sensitive to slope than to elevation.61Spatial mismatch of rural housing land change and rural population migration.61Get the farmers to migrate to towns instead of big cities in the process of urbanization.61Improving related system and institution to remove the relationship between out-migrated farmers and rural housing land.


Li Y, Liu Y, Long H, 2012. Characteristics and mechanism of village transformation development in typical regions of Huang-Huai-Hai plain.Acta Geographica Sinica, 67(6): 771-782. (in Chinese)China's agriculture and rural development have made great achievements since the reform and open-door policy was initiated. However, it can be seen clearly that agricultural foundation of China is still weak, rural development is still lagging behind, and the increase of farmers' incomes is still unstable. Village is definitely the main battlefield of solving problems related to farmers, agriculture and rural areas (so called "San Nong Wen Ti" in Chinese) and building new countryside, so it is of great theoretical and practical value to carry out studies on the evolutionary process and dynamic mechanism of village development. This study aims to explore the evolutionary processes, common features and general mechanism of village development in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, a representative of China's traditional agricultural regions, based on systematic analysis of development history and mechanism of five villages in three counties with different types of rural development. The main contents and results were summed up as follows: (1) Factors that influence village development. Geographical location, economic basis, resource and environment endowments, social capital and human capital are internal influencing factors; macroeconomic environment, institutional arrangement, market demand, professional techniques and government support are external ones; accidental factors from interior or exterior village may catalyze, lubricate or block village development. (2) Common features of village development. Grassroots participation is the core concept and basic principles that should be adhered to during the course of village development; the integration of internal and external motivation is the objective needs of village development and rural elites play an important role during the process, in particular, they are usually the key actors of motivating and integrating the desire of internal and external participants; to seize high value-added part of value chain is the strategic orientation of village industrial development; innovation is one of the most important engines driving village development; strategy, planning and executive force are also vital supports for village development; and overall, village development is a dynamic process of self-organizing and network forming. (3) General mechanism of village development. Local villagers are the main body of village development, and rural elites are the core element. Based on a systematic insight into the local resources endowment, development willingness, market demand, government's policy orientation, external experiences and so on, the rural elites exert themselves to stimulate the internal motivation and integrate the external motivation, and then these actors jointly build the collaborative organization, learn for innovation, formulate development strategy, carry out division of labor and participate in market competition, so as to accelerate the optimization of local village's bio-physical structure, techno-economic structure and institutional-social structure, and as such the village may realize a transitional development. These findings may contribute to the theorizing of village transformation development in contemporary China and benefit local democratic decision-making, land consolidation and the development of high-benefit industrial agriculture in the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain.


Li Y, Liu Y, Long Het al., 2013. Village transformation development, resources and environment effects and their optimal regulation in the metropolitan suburbs: The case of Beicun in Shunyi District, Beijing.Acta Geographica Sinica, 68(6): 825-838. (in Chinese)Village is definitely the window to understand and transform rural China, especially the main battlefield of solving problems related to farmers, agriculture and rural areas (so called &quot;San Nong Wen Ti&quot; in Chinese or three rural issues in English) and building new countryside. It is of great theoretical and practical value to carry out studies on the resources and environment effects and their optimal regulation path during the course of village transformation development. This paper aims to explore the theoretical points, evolutionary processes, common features and inner mechanism of village transformation development, resources and environment effects and their optimal regulation in metropolitan suburbs where significant changes have taken place in recent years, based on a systematic case study of Beicun in Beijing's suburbs. The main contents and results were summed up as follows: (1) Beicun has experienced three development stages since 1978, namely slow development stage, gradually starting stage and transformation development stage. (2) During the course of village development, the resources and environment effects showed periodic differences. The efficiency of resources utilization changed from low level to high level, environmental pollution from high degree to low degree, and the change trends of environmental pollution index displayed an inverted &quot;U&quot;-shaped curve. (3) The optimal regulation process of resources and environment effects could be divided into six links, namely problematisation, observation and assessment, mobilization, function endowing, joint action and system restructuring. (4) The inner mechanism of achieving the goals of optimal regulation successfully can be concluded as follows: the core actors of local rural development, including cadres, rural elites and corporative organizations, have actively inspired the endogenous demand of ordinary villagers and village-based enterprises, effectively integrated the external powers of government and technical support units, spontaneously taken optimizing resources and environment elements as the common goal, and thus successfully built a well-targeted, functionally distinct and technically feasible actor-networks from which all the actors could benefit. As such, it is suggested that the rural construction and optimal regulation of resource and environment effects in new era should strive to enhance inner response mechanism, optimize outward intervention mechanism, and in particular, pay attention to the upgrading, improvement and coupling of environmental protection awareness, development ability, social responsibility, science and technology support and relative regulation mechanism.

Lin R, Cai Y, 2012. Study on rural multifunction and landscape reformulation in the transitional period.Human Geography, 27(2): 45-49. (in Chinese)Based on the concept of multifunction and landscape functions,this article reviews rural multifunctional development in the context of globalization.Change in the patterns of urbanization and the revaluing of the rural lifestyle,inversion of demographic flows between urban and rural areas,the increased importance placed on protecting the environment and regions with unique characteristics,and the changes in consumption,food habits,employment,and related activities.At different developmental stages,a region has special strategic objectives and core issues to be resolved as well as various functions that conferred by regional development.Landscape patterns express past policy decisions,and landscape processes shape the possibilities for future policy and economy.An examination of landscape dynamics can therefore graphically demonstrate tensions,conflicts and contradictions within and between different policy paradigms,in particular upon the landscape effects of the radical reforms of agricultural policy that were implemented in china.A number of recent discourses and initiatives are increasingly challenging the current policy system and practices.First,there is a growing argument for a landscape scale approach to biodiversity and natural habitats in the production landscape.Second,the question of a more coherent and proactive public landscape policy for valuable landscapes has been raised.The purpose of shaping rural landscape multifunctionality is to protect and improve rural environment,to maintain the biodiversity for ecological function,to improve the tourism and special culture site of social-economical function and to inherit the history as kind of culture function.For rural transition at the present stage,it is not enough to focus only on eco-environment or cultural landscape,high attention should be paid on reshaping the multifuctionality of rural landscape and its planning and utilization of the rural areas and with increased subsidiarity and localization of rural development policies.In the end,some suggestions are put forward,so that new insights on the sustainable development in rural area can be best.

Liu P, 2015. The theory and practice exploration of “remembering nostalgia” in the construction of new urbanization.Geographical Research, 34(7): 1205-1212. (in Chinese)The national working conference of new urbanization proposed that to improve the level of urban construction, we should let the residents see mountain, see water, and remember the nostalgia. Nostalgia is a kind of memory, missing or longing for hometown or the places you have once lived in your deep heart; Nostalgia is the softest inner emotion and a kind of spiritual demands. On the one hand, the nostalgia which the new urbanization should remember is to protect its historical culture, historical memory and humanistic spirit of the hometown; on the other hand, the nostalgia should preserve the historical gene of these places and inherit rural civilization. The foundation of remembering the nostalgia is to intensify culture protection. And by means of protecting cultural heritage and style of the traditional settlements practically,preserving cultural gene, inheriting cultural memory, creating cultural brand and characteristic landscape etc., the nostalgia can meet the spiritual demand of the residents' homesickness, life emotion, historical emotion and cultural emotion in the process of new urbanization construction. The key of remembering the nostalgia is to promote the construction of small characteristic towns vigorously. Relying on site urbanization, the significant ways of achieving new urbanization are star- studded layout of small towns and the construction of characteristic tourism small town. The construction of Hunan's characteristic tourism small town is an attempt to remember the nostalgia, and it could help to create a beautiful homeland filled with poetics for new urbanization construction which is full of humanistic care.

Liu S, 2006. Ecological Study of Rural Settlements: Theory and Practice. Beijing: China Environmental Science Press. (in Chinese)

Liu Y, 2007. Rural transformation development and new countryside construction in eastern coastal area of China.Acta Geographica Sinica, 62(6): 563-570. (in Chinese)With the implementation of reform and opening up policies, rapid industrialization and urbanization in the eastern coastal area of China has not only promoted the development of regional economy, enhanced the international competitiveness, but also influenced the vast rural area deeply, bringing great changes to the rural industrial structure, employment structure and agricultural production pattern, and the development of the coastal rural area has come into a new period of transformation and upgrade. The proportion of the primary industry decreased from 23.3% to 7.9% and that of the tertiary industry increased from 19.8% to 40.5%, while the proportion of agricultural labor force decreased from 90.8% to 47.9% during 1978-2005. Analysis shows that proportions of both production value of coastal agriculture in GDP and agricultural labor force in rural labors will continue to decrease to 8.0% and 44.5% by 2010 and to 6.0% and 32.2% by 2020. From 1990 to 2005, the average elasticity coefficient of cultivated land and labor force in the eastern coastal area came to 1.84, which means that the transfer of agricultural labor force is faster than the decrease of cultivated land and the labor productivity is increasing steadily. At the corresponding period, rural population decreased from 306 million to 219 million while rural construction land use per capita increased, indicating that the transfer of rural population failed to be linked to the decrease of rural residential land. The new countryside construction in the eastern coastal area must obey the rules of rural transformation and development, lay stress on scientific plan and regionalization, promote rural productivity and foster interactive and harmonious development between city and countryside by optimizing urban and rural land use and developing modern agriculture and rural characteristic economy.


Liu Y, 2011. Geography of New Countryside Construction in China. Beijing: Science Press. (in Chinese)

Liu Y, 2013. New-type urbanization should cure “rural diseases”. People’s Daily, 2013-09-10. (in Chinese)

Liu Y, 2014. New thoughts on returning to hometown. People’s Daily, 2014-03-11. (in Chinese)

Liu Y, Chen C, Li Y, 2014. The town-villages construction pattern under new-type urbanization in China.Areal Research and Development, 33(6): 1-6. (in Chinese)The town-villages construction pattern( TVCP) can be defined as the spatial layout,the grades and the governing systems among counties,key towns,central towns and central villages( communities) in rural areas of China. To face up to the national strategy of new-type urbanization,territory spatial optimization and ecological civilization construction,so it is of great theoretical and practical value to carry out studies on the evolutionary process,spacial system and dynamic mechanism of the TVCP. This study aims to the serious "village disease"under "four modernizations"problems of rural development which occurred in the process of China's rapid urbanization,analyzes the strategical position,basic connotations and practical significance of TVCP,and illustrates the essential theories of human-earth relationship of geographical systems theory,new countryside construction theory,urban-rural transformation development theory and urban-rural equalized development theory in the process of boosting the TVCP,and proposes the theoretical system of TVCP,the framework of the urban-rural relationships studies.Besides,this paper made a thorough study on the frontier issues and innovative mechanisms of the TVCP in the new era of China's transformation development.


Liu Y, Liu Y, Chen Y, 2011a. Territorial multi-functionality evaluation and decision-making mechanism at county scale in China.Acta Geographica Sinica, 66(10): 1379-1389. (in Chinese)Territorial function in various regions has a significant spatial heterogeneity and temporal variability. With the rapid development of industrialization and urbanization as well as enhancement of geographic differentiation and diversity of man-earth areal system, territorial functions and regional development orientations has shown an increasingly strong trend towards diversification. Based on the definition of territorial dominant functions at the county level and the building of multi-functionality evaluation index system and index analysis model, this paper evaluates and grades the functions of economic development, food security, social stability, environmental protection and comprehensive function. The results are obtained as follows economy-oriented functional areas are mainly distributed in eastern coastal developed areas and peripheral areas of the metropolitan regions, such as Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River Delta and Beijing-Tianjin-Ji region. Grain-oriented functional areas are mainly distributed in the Northeast China Plain, the Huang-Huai-Hai Plain, Sichuan Basin, central Hubei, eastern Hunan and other regions covered by a large area of plain. The social security function indexes are gradually weakened from coastal to inland areas and from north to south; Eco-conservation areas are concentrated in the Northeast China and southern Qinling Mountain-Huaihe River Line. Then based on the coupling of each dominant function and the evaluation of composite function at the county level, study areas are divided into two types: areas with strong function and areas with weak function. Finally, this paper explores the innovation mechanisms and favorable policies to enhance the dominant function of each county and optimize the allocation of production factors, including the financial transfer payment, ecological compensation, and government performance assessment, which provide a scientific guidance for regional harmony development and sustainable growth of county competitive power.


Liu Y, Liu Y, Guo L, 2011b. Connotations of rural regional multifunction and its policy implications in China.Human Geography, 26(6): 103-106, 132. (in Chinese)Rural areas are able to fulfill diversified functions,including social function,economic function as well as ecological and environmental function,and an individual region has its specific combination of functions.At different developmental stages,a region has special strategic objectives and core issues to be resolved as well as various functions that conferred by regional development.Rural regional multifunction possesses the basic characteristics of subjective cognition,multiple compositions,interaction,spatial variation and temporal evolution.The interaction of rural elements promotes the evolution of rural functions;rural region multifunction are in the process of dynamic evolution,and the evolutionary process is divided by function into four stages,including growth stage,flourishing stage,stability stage and decline stage.During the rural transformation,optimization and integration of rural elements is the fundamental driving force for multifunction evolution.For the differences of resource endowment,location condition,stage of economic development and developing strategic orientation,rural functions in various regions have significantly spatial heterogeneity and temporal variability.Each rural area will choose the appropriate function as the focus of training and developing,which lead to different patterns of land allocation and industrial distribution.For the specific scientific problems in the identification and evaluation of territorial dominant functions,there are still many weak points that need to further study in the related theories and methods construction in geography.Through the in-depth analysis of the connotation of rural region multifunction,this study will provide a scientific basis for rural specialized development and for the promotion of rural function value.

Liu Y, Liu Y, Zhai R, 2009. Geographical research and optimizing practice of rural hollowing in China.Acta Geographica Sinica, 64(10): 1193-1202. (in Chinese)lt;p>Rural hollowing is a widespread phenomenon all over China, especially in traditional agricultural areas. From the dynamic viewpoint, rural hollowing is a special evolution form of rural areal system during the process of urban-rural transformation development. In terms of its natural function and task, rural geography has unique advantages to research rural hollowing. From the comprehensive, dynamic and regional perspectives, these advantages of rural geography are mainly the phenomenon description and spatial models establishment of rural hollowing, formation mechanism and dynamic force simulation, response mechanism and comprehensive effect, as well as potential types and its optimal regulation This paper puts forward a series of propositions which should be studied based on theoretical disciplinary system of rural geography. Therefore this paper refines and develops the theoretical foundation of rural geography for rural hollowing research. The theoretical system includes the lifecycles of rural hollowing evolvement, spatial pattern of generation development, mechanics theory of rural hollowing and &quot;Three Integration&quot; model. Then based on the theory research of rural space reconstructions and rural hollowing regulation, integrating with analysis of influencing factors on spatial pattern and evolvement of rural settlement, this paper develops a framework for the succession, evaluation and regulation of rural hollowing. Finally, taking Yucheng city in Shandong province as a typical case, this paper constructs the basic criterion, development concept and planning schemes for the regulation of hollowed villages in Yucheng city, which is the theoretical practice of rural geography. In order to guide new countryside construction, ensure warning line of cultivated land and co-ordinate land use allocation between urban and rural areas in China, it is necessary to conduct a through investigation on the mechanism, policy and mode innovation involved &quot;trinity&quot; by implementing village renovation demonstration project.</p>


Lobley M, Potter C, 2004. Agricultural change and restructuring: Recent evidence from a survey of agricultural households in England.Journal of Rural Studies, 20(4): 499-510.Despite widespread speculation about the likely future extent of agricultural restructuring in the UK, researchers and policymakers are surprisingly ignorant of the nature and extent of farm household adjustment in the period since the mid 1990s. Meanwhile, claims that agriculture is in crisis and on the threshold of radical structural change continue to receive widespread media attention. Critics point out that because European policy debates are constructed in ways which emphasise the vulnerability of farmers and their businesses, there is a lack of attention to the true status and economic sustainability of agricultural households themselves. This paper reports results from a recent survey of agricultural business restructuring within six English study areas selected to span a range of agricultural settings and designed to identify the different trajectories of change to be found there. It concludes that while there is some evidence of disengagement from mainstream agriculture and


Long H, 2012. Land Use and Rural Transformation Development in China. Beijing: Science Press. (in Chinese)

Long H, 2014. Land consolidation: An indispensable way of spatial restructuring in rural China.Journal of Geographical Sciences, 24(2):;p>The implementation of new type industrialization and urbanization and agricultural modernization strategies lacks of a major hand grip and spatial supporting platform,due to long-term existed &quot;dual-track&quot; structure of rural-urban development in China as well as unstable rural development institution and mechanism. It is necessary to restructure rural production,living and ecological space by carrying out land consolidation,so as to establish a new platform for building new countryside and realizing urban-rural integration development in China. This paper develops the concept and connotation of rural spatial restructuring. Basing on the effects analysis of industrialization and urbanization on rural production,living and ecological space,the mechanism of pushing forward rural spatial restructuring by carrying out land consolidation is probed. A conceptualization of the models of rural production,living and ecological spatial restructuring is analyzed combining with agricultural land consolidation,hollowed villages consolidation and industrial and mining land consolidation. Finally,the author argues that a &quot;bottom-up&quot; restructuring strategy accompanied by a few &quot;top-down&quot; elements is helpful for smoothly pushing forward rural spatial restructuring in China. In addition,the optimization and restructuring of rural production,living and ecological space will rely on the innovations of regional engineering technology,policy and mechanism,and mode of rural land consolidation,and more attentions should be paid to rural space,the foundation base and platform for realizing urban-rural integration development.</p>


Long H, Heilig G K, Li Xet al., 2007. Socio-economic development and land-use change: Analysis of rural housing land transition in the Transect of the Yangtse River, China.Land Use Policy, 24(1):;h2 class="secHeading" id="section_abstract">Abstract</h2><p id="">Rural housing land accounted for 67.3% of China's total construction land in 2000. While there are numerous studies analyzing the loss of arable land due to urban sprawl, less attention has been paid to the study of rural housing land in China. This paper develops a theoretical framework for rural housing land transition in China. It introduces a research method, which is using the spatial differentiation in regional development for compensating the deficiencies in time-series data, to analyze the rural housing land transition in the Transect of the Yangtse River (TYR). Detailed land-use data and socio-economic data from both research institutes and government departments were used to test the following hypothesis on rural housing land transition. We assume that rural housing in every region will undergo specific stages&mdash;the proportion of rural housing in the increase of total construction land will decline gradually with the development of the local economy, and the end of the transition corresponds to a new equilibrium between rural housing and other construction activities. Five regional types of rural housing land change were defined according to an aggregation index used to reflect landscape patterns. The outcomes indicated that the share of rural housing in the increase of total construction land declines gradually from the upper reaches to the lower reaches of the Yangtse River, i.e. from Ganzi&ndash;Yushu to Luzhou&ndash;Diqing, Enshi&ndash;Chongqing, Tongling&ndash;Yichang and to Shanghai&ndash;Chaohu. Each region is in a different phase of the rural housing land transition, which corresponds to a particular socio-economic developmental level. Finally, some policy implications were discussed by applying this research to land management issues. The authors argue that there are problems in the current rural housing land managerial system in China, and that the Central Government needs to define uniform regulations for rural housing according to regional socio-economic developmental level, physical conditions and rural housing land transition phase.</p>


Long H, Li T, 2012. The coupling characteristics and mechanism of farmland and rural housing land transition in China.Journal of Geographical Sciences, 22(3): 548-562.Land use transition refers to the changes in land use morphology (both dominant morphology and recessive morphology) of a certain region over a certain period of time driven by socio-economic change and innovation, and it usually corresponds to the transition of socio-economic development phase. In China, farmland and rural housing land are the two major sources of land use transition. This paper analyzes the spatio-temporal coupling characteristics of farmland and rural housing land transition in China, using high-resolution Landsat TM (Thematic Mapper) data in 2000 and 2008, and the data from the Ministry of Land and Resources of China. The outcomes indicated that: (1) during 2000–2008, the correlation coefficient of farmland vs. rural housing land change is 610.921, and it shows that the change pattern of farmland and rural housing land is uncoordinated; (2) the result of Spearman rank correlation analysis shows that rural housing land change has played a major role in the mutual transformation of farmland and rural housing land; and (3) it shows a high-degree spatial coupling between farmland and rural housing land change in southeast China during 2000–2008. In general, farmland and rural housing land transition in China is driven by socio-economic, bio-physical and managerial three-dimensional driving factors through the interactions among rural population, farmland and rural housing land. However, the spatio-temporal coupling phenomenon and mechanism of farmland and rural housing land transition in China are largely due to the “dual-track” structure of rural-urban development.


Long H, Li Y, Liu Y, 2009. Analysis of evolutive characteristics and their driving mechanism of hollowing villages in China.Acta Geographica Sinica, 64(10): 1203-1213. (in Chinese)lt;p>With the acceleration of industrialization and urbanization, there is a phenomenon of hollowing villages resulting from the vacancy and idleness of rural housing in the core of villages in the vast rural areas of China. It is a unique spatial morphology of China's rural settlements shaped by a &quot;dual track&quot; structure of rural-urban socio-economic development. The formation and evolution of hollowing villages is closely interrelated with the spatial organization of the activities of the rural population and the migration flows between town and country and between rural areas. Based on the characteristics of rural housing land-use, an evolutive model of the development stages of hollowing villages was constructed. Usually, there are four evolutive stages in a normal development process of hollowing villages at the urban-rural fringe, i.e., solidization, subhollowing, hollowing and resolidization, which corresponds with the temporal characteristics of China's socio-economic development. However, China has a vast territory with obvious regional differentiation in the level of socio-economic development, which contributes to coexisting different evolutive stages of hollowing villages in the same period, in provincial even larger scale. The influencing factors of hollowing village formation and evolution include four aspects such as economic factors concerning economic growth and technological level, socio-cultural factors embracing population change, social and land-use main body behaviors, institutional and managerial factors including land property right, price and policy, and bio-physical factors. Accordingly, the evolutive types of hollowing villages were classified, and using high-resolution remote sensing data and household investigations, the evolutive characteristics and its driving mechanism of the evolution of hollowing village types in plain agricultural region were studied.</p>


Long H, Li Y, Liu Yet al., 2012. Accelerated restructuring in rural China fueled by ‘increasing vs. decreasing balance’ land-use policy for dealing with hollowed villages.Land Use Policy, 29(1): 11-22.Rapid industrialization and urbanization in China has produced a unique phenomenon of 'village-hollowing', shaped by the dual-track structure of socio-economic development. This paper analyzes the phenomenon of 'village-hollowing', identifying the processes and influences that have driven their evolution, and highlighting the challenge that the locking-up of unused rural housing land in 'hollowed villages' presents for China in the context of concerns over urban development and food security. The paper examines the 'increasing vs. decreasing balance' land-use policy has been adopted by the Chinese government in response to the problem, which seeks to balance increases in urban construction land with a reduction in rural construction land. The implementation of the scheme is discussed through a case study of Huantai county in Shandong province, drawing attention to its contested and contingent nature. It is argued that the policy is a top-down approach to rural restructuring that necessarily requires the acquiescence of local actors. However, it is noted that failures to adequate engage with local actors has led to resistance to the policy, including violent protests against the demolition of housing. The paper suggests that lessons might be learned from Europe by incorporating elements of 'bottom-up' planning into the process. As such, the paper demonstrates that rural restructuring in China is a dynamic, multi-scalar and hybrid process that shares common elements and experiences with rural restructuring in Europe and elsewhere. but which is also strongly shaped by the distinctive political, economic, social and cultural context of China. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Long H, Liu Y, 2016. Rural restructuring in China.Journal of Rural Studies, 47: 387-391.

Long H, Tu S, Ge D, 2016b. Effects of new-type urbanization on poverty alleviation and development and corresponding countermeasures.Bulletin of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 31(3): 309-319. (in Chinese)By the end of 2014,there are still 14 contiguous poverty-stricken areas,592 national poverty counties,128 thousand impoverished villages,29.49 million poor families,and 70.17 million rural poor population in China. Usually,most contiguous poverty-stricken areas lie in revolutionary base areas,minority areas,remote and border areas with bad physical conditions and weak socio-economic foundation,which determines that the task of poverty reduction is arduous in these areas. Urbanization is an objective process of socio-economic development. Affected by the factors such as physical conditions,economic development foundation,allocation of production elements,and the national and regional policy guidance,urbanization in different areas and at different stages has diversified influences on regional economic growth,social development,and the improvement of ecological environment. Recently,with the rapid advance of urbanization,the negative effects of urban-rural and inter-regional development gap are increasingly obvious and have attracted more attention. Accordingly,the strategy of newtype urbanization was put forward during the 18 th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in November 2012,and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council of China jointly issued "The National Plan of New-type Urbanization(2014鈥2020)" in March 2014. At present,new-type urbanization and poverty alleviation and development are important strategies in China concerning the overall situation of building a well-off society in all-round way. How to deal with the relationships between new-type urbanization and poverty alleviation and development is one of the most significant topics in the field of geography and regional sustainable development,which is an urgent need to be studied further. Under the background of urbanization,with the population and land as the core,the diversified interaction and subsequent marginalization of the material and non-material elements in poor areas of China have generated considerable changes in the aspects of rural industrial structure,employment structure,consumption structure,land-use structure,and social organization structure. Furthermore,the diversified interaction and marginalization have brought about some problems in part of the poor areas,e.g.,the flow away of young laborers,the weakening of rural development main body,the abandonment of rural land,and the shortage of public infrastructure,while the changes in the internal allocation of production elements will further produce adverse effects on regional market capacity of economic development. From the view of the flow of production elements,this paper firstly elaborates the effects of urbanization on the socio-economic development in poor areas. Then,combining with the negative impacts of traditional urbanization on local self-development level and sustainable development ability,it probes the influential paths that new-type urbanization promotes poverty alleviation and development,e.g.,settling down the former agricultural population who have migrated to the cities in orderly way,restructuring the spatial layout of "city-town-village" to provide spatial platform for local industrial development and public infrastructure configuration,fostering open and thriving industrial system to provide the dynamic support for enhancing the motive power of endogenous development,and promoting urban-rural integration development to provide fundamental guarantee for the equal exchanges of urban-rural development elements and the balanced allocation of public resources. However,the effective implementation of new-type urbanization and the smooth advance of poverty alleviation and development are directly or indirectly related to a series of resources allocation system and macro policy environment concerning household registration,land use,finance,planning,etc. Finally,in order to provide references for coordinating urban and rural development via the "double-wheel driving" of new-type urbanization and poverty alleviation and development,this paper proposes policy suggestions and institute optimization paths,e.g.,improving the related systems and policies of transforming agricultural population to urban citizen,pushing forward the reform of rural land property rights system,innovating the methods of financial service in poor areas,advancing related policy and technical system of rural restructuring planning,and establishing the ecological compensation mechanism.

Long H, Tu S, Ge Det al., 2016a. The allocation and management of critical resources in rural China under restructuring: Problems and prospects.Journal of Rural Studies, 47: 392-412.Rapid and far-reaching development transition has triggered corresponding restructuring in rural China especially since the turn of the new millennium. Recently, there has been an increasing trend emphasizing regional resources in formulating rural development policy and restructuring rural areas. This paper analyzes the rural restructuring in China affected by the allocation and management of critical resources including human resource, land resource and capital, by establishing a theoretical framework of “elements-structure-function” of rural territorial system. It is argued that rural restructuring is a process of optimizing the allocation and management of the material and non-material elements affecting the development of rural areas and accomplishing the structure optimization and the function maximum of rural development system. Due to the constraints from the maintained urban–rural dualism of land ownership and household registration, the rapid rural restructuring under both globalization and the implementation of the national strategies on industrialization, urbanization, informatization and agricultural modernization, the changes of the allocation of critical resources have brought about many problems and challenges for the future development of rural China, such as the nonagriculturalization, non-grain preference and abandonment of farmland use together with the derelict and idle rural housing land, the weakening mainbody of rural development, the unfair urban–rural allocation of capital and its structural imbalance, and so on. Aiming at how to resolve the problems and adapt to the challenges, it is pivotal to restructure the rural development space, rural industry, and rural social organization and management mainbody. Furthermore, it is necessary to restructure the contours of state intervention in rural societies and economies and allocate and manage the critical resources affecting rural development, from the perspectives of integrating urban and rural resources, improving the efficiency of resources utilization, and fully understanding the influences of globalization on rural restructuring in China.


Long H, Zou J, Pykett Jet al., 2011. Analysis of rural transformation development in China since the turn of the new millennium.Applied Geography, 31(3): 1094~1105.Since the turn of the new millennium, the Chinese central government has focused significant attention on substantially improving rural residents’ well-being and achieving the coordinated development of urban and rural areas. This paper examines China’s rural transformation development based on three assessing indicator systems (the rural development level, the rural transformation level, and the urban–rural coordination level), using government socioeconomic data from 2000 to 2008. Spatial and statistical analyses, supported by SPSS 13 and ArcGIS 9.2 software, show that rural China has experienced universal and intense transformative development since 2000. China’s urban–rural coordination development declined greatly between 2000 and 2008. Our analysis shows that rural transformation development that corresponds to a certain rural development level will lead to the effective development of regional rural systems and an improved urban–rural relationship. This paper suggests that more attention needs to be paid to the powerful factors that fuel rural transformation development, especially in coastal China, to coordinate urban–rural development under the pressure of rapid industrialization and urbanization in the new century. Given the multiscale nature of regional inequalities in rural transformation development, improving rural development policies aimed at various rural transformation development types might be the most effective way to shape a more coordinated urban–rural development pattern in China.


Ma X, Li Q, Shen Y, 2012. Morphological difference and regional types of rural settlements in Jiangsu province.Acta Geographica Sinica, 67(4): 516-525. (in Chinese)Based on the SPOT satellite images of Jiangsu Province in 2007/2008,using models such as exploratory spatial data analysis and spatial metrics,the paper conducts a quantitative analysis of the space differentiation of rural settlements in Jiangsu Province,and further identifies the regional types.The results are shown as follows.In spatial distribution,the rural settlements in Jiangsu are characterized by obvious concentration with evident spatial variability,which is shown in the ladder-like sparse distribution towards the north and south in areas along the Yangtze River with high correlation in the overall distribution and geomorphic types.In the scale,the rural settlements in Jiangsu are generally in small scale with small difference in the scale of small villages and large gap in the scale of large villages which account for a small proportion.The rural settlements in Jiangsu are characterized by low concentration in size distribution,and is obviously presented in the"dumbbell"structure,namely,the rural settlements in northern and southern Jiangsu are in a large scale,and those in the central part are in a relatively small scale.In the spatial change of form and pattern,through the measurement of the pattern indices of the five transects in the northern,central and southern Jiangsu,the coastal area and areas along the Grand Canal,it was found that the form of the rural settlements in central Jiangsu is more complex than that in the northern and southern parts of the province,and the form of coastal area is more complex than that in areas along the canal.The rural settlements in southern Jiangsu and areas along the canal are characterized by good connectivity.The rural settlements in the five transects are significantly differentiated in distribution.Finally,through establishing the morphological measurement index system of the rural settlements,by adopting the method of hierarchical cluster,the rural settlements in Jiangsu are divided into eight types:Xulian hillock(low-density large-mass type),Suhuai plain(medium-density broad-band type),coastal reclamation area(high-density stripe type),polder area in central Suzhou(medium-density arc-belt type),plain south of the Yangtze River(medium-density small-mass type),lake mound land(low-density point-scattered type),Ningyi hilly region(cluster-like dispersal type),and Lixiahe area(low-density cluster-like type).

Markey S, Halseth G, Manson D, 2008. Challenging the inevitability of rural decline: Advancing the policy of place in northern British Columbia.Journal of Rural Studies, 24(4): 409-421.In current policy discourse, rural decline is often described as an inevitable process associated with such broader structural trends as globalization and urbanization. The purpose of this paper is to challenge the supposed inevitability of rural decline in northern British Columbia (BC), Canada. We argue that rural decline in northern BC has been facilitated through an intentional policy program that views hinterland areas as a ‘resource bank’ from which to fund provincial infrastructure and services, without adequate attention to rural reinvestment. We highlight the potential discrepancies of this approach through a comparative study of two development eras in the province. In the first era, we examine the policies and development approach adopted by the W.A.C. Bennett provincial government, which governed from 1952 to 1972. We argue that the Bennett regime confronted the complexity of the post-war era with a comprehensive vision and coordinated policy program for ‘province building’ through intensive investments in industrial expansion and community infrastructure throughout the BC hinterland. By comparison, the post-1980s era in BC has witnessed a continuation of the resource bank approach, minus a concomitant commitment to hinterland investment. Reversing the inevitability of rural decline requires a renovation of the investment orientation witnessed during the Bennett era through an appreciation of the role of place in economic development. Our recommendations for renewed rural development in northern BC are drawn from a synthesis of the Bennett lessons with those emerging within place-based development literature.


Marsden T, Lowe P, Whatmore S, 1990. Rural Restructuring: Global Processes and Their Responses. London: David Fulton.Under prevailing conditions, rural-based research and theory have pursued two distinct paths: one oriented to agrarian political economy, and the other to rural restructuring. The contributions to the volume trace the recent and divergent development of these two separate strands and point to the need for a new synthesis to address contemporary rural questions. They explore the new rural agenda...

National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBSC), 1991. Chinese Statistical Yearbook. Beijing: China Statistics Press. (in Chinese)

National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBSC), 2015. Chinese Statistical Yearbook. Beijing: China Statistics Press. (in Chinese)

Nelson P B, 2001. Rural restructuring in the American West: Land use, family and class discourses.Journal of Rural Studies, 17(4): 395-407.Migration patterns, technological developments, and altered human and relationships are combining to precipitate tremendous changes in rural communities across the western US. These processes of restructuring, however, have been quite contentious and divisive for many of the region's small towns. While we are beginning to understand the causes of recent growth and development trends, the consequences of contemporary forces of restructuring on communities remain unstudied. This paper explores the reactions of residents to forces of restructuring in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, the Methow Valley, Washington, Kane County, Utah, and Teton Valley, Idaho. In depth interviews and survey responses give voice to community members by allowing them to articulate their perceptions and interpretations of recent events. The analyses demonstrate tremendous diversity in the ways in which individuals interpret the changes taking place around them. These diverse interpretations challenge singular conceptions of community and highlight the ways in which notions of land use, family, and class are negotiated in the context of contemporary rural restructuring. The analysis further demonstrates the need for a more synthesized field of rural studies spanning disciplinary and national divides.


Qiao J, 2011. Rural Community Space of China. Beijing: Science Press. (in Chinese)

Tang C, He Y, Zhou Get al., 2014. The research on optimization mode of spatial organization of rural settlements oriented by life quality.Acta Geographica Sinica, 69(10): 1459-1472. (in Chinese)This paper introduces the "life quality theory". Based on the two-way interactive mechanism between space of rural settlements and the life quality, the paper researches the optimization mode of spatial organization of rural settlements in three aspects, which are the integration of rural settlement spatial functions, the optimization of spatial structure and the regulation of spatial scale, so as to build optimization mode and framework of spatial organization of rural settlements with high quality life. The study suggests that: (1) The settlement is the spatial carrier of life quality and the life quality is the essential content of settlements. The two mentioned above influence and improve each other. So, the reasonable rural settlement space is the important precondition for higher life quality. (2) The type of spatial function of rural settlements can be divided into livelihood maintaining, industrial developing and quality optimizing, and the optimization of spatial organization of rural settlements oriented by life quality requires promotion of livelihood maintaining, integration of industrial developing and engagement of quality optimizing. (3) There are two important aspects in the optimization of spatial organization of rural settlements. The one is to promote the organic concentration of living space, agricultural space and industrial space, the organic evacuation of social intercourse space, recreational space and services space, and the organic balance of living space, production space and ecological space, in order to realize the reasonable proportion and optimized combination of internal spatial type in settlements. And the other one is to form a functional structure level of "comprehensive village - featured village" and build spatial organization mode of settlements connected by rural roads by switching the location and adjusting the function, with the destruction of underdeveloped villages, the saving of normal villages, the enlargement of important villages, and the construction of new villages. (4) As an ideal mode of rural settlements space optimization oriented by life quality, RROD mode should be built at a rational scale of unit settlement and distance between settlements, leading to an RROD and RROD system with rational structure, auxiliary facility, fully function and well-organized distribution.


Tu S, Long H, Li Tet al., 2015. Study on the mechanism and models of villages and towns construction and rural development in China.Economic Geography, 35(12): 149-156. (in Chinese)

Wang C, Wang L, Li Xet al., 2011. The source of the forward-security of farmers’ livelihood and settlement integration: Based on the survey of 477 farmers in Bailin Village, west suburbs of Chongqing.Acta Geographica Sinica, 66(8): 1141-1152. (in Chinese)Farmers' livelihood assets decide their choices of livelihood means and maneuver behavior. The consumption of settlement construction, as one of the main consumption investment of farmers, is enslaved to the quantity of farmers' livelihood assets provided. How to realize rational consumption of settlement construction of farmers based on the investigation of their livelihood assets has become the key to enhancing the efficiency of land resources in rural areas and improving the production and living conditions of farmers. Therefore, by taking Bailin Village in Chongqing city as an example, by the methods of 'PAR (Participatory Rural Appraisal)+3S' and using geo-coordinates as a unique code, this paper did a farmer survey from July to December, 2009, and then set up a 'farmers-land' geo-database to link farmers' attribution and space characteristics of land managed by farmers. Accordingly, this paper, based on the database, constructed the index system to quantize farmers' livelihood assets, then compartmentalized the farmers' styles and analyzed the demand of different farmer's rural settlements, and then realized the integration of farmers' rural settlements. The results indicated that the allocation structures of farmers' livelihood assets differentiated greatly. The livelihood assets of 8% of the farmers preponderated over an average value and 23% at medium level. Meanwhile, mainly based on the natural asset product and accompanied with other assets, the farmers were divided into four types, that is non-agricultural diversification farmer type (31%), part-time development type (23% ), non-agricultural specialization development type (22% ), agricultural diversification development type (16% ) and agricultural specialization type (8% ). According to different sources of farmers' livelihood together with national and local strategies, the types of farmers' rural settlements, including community type (non-agricultural specialization development type and non-agricultural diversification development type), group type (agricultural specialization development type), service type (agricultural diversification development type) and ribbon-type (part-time development type) , were constructed in the study areas.


Wang H, Cao H, 2011. The restructuring of rural community and social order under the background of new rural construction.Economic Research Guide, (31): 39-40. (in Chinese)

Wang Y, Li G, 2011. Functional transformation and spatial restructuring of rural settlements in southern Jiangsu: A case study of Suzhou.City Planning Review, 35(7): 54-60. (in Chinese)Based on the spatial relationship between rural production and inhabitation,through tracing historical events that impact on the rural settlement function evolution in Southern Jiangsu,this paper comprehensively discusses the changes of function and spatial form of rural settlements in Southern Jiangsu since 1978.It finds that the function of rural settlements in Southern Jiangsu has experienced three modes since 1978.The original mode was "industrial production+ agricultural production+ habitation",then the "industrial production" was separated from "agricultural production+ habitation",after that,the three functions were independent.With the function transformation of rural settlements,the spatial segregation of industrial production,agricultural production and habitation is more obvious.Local government plays an important role in reconstructing rural spatial form at present in Southern Jiangsu.Lastly,it examines the practices in new countryside development

Wilson O J, 1995. Rural restructuring and agriculture-rural economy linkages: A New Zealand study.Journal of Rural Studies, 11(4): 417-431.Rapid rural restructuring in New Zealand has occurred following government policy changes in the mid-1980s. This paper seeks to explore the impact of these events on agriculture-rural economy linkages, with a study of a rural service town in Southland, the southernmost region of the South Island. The findings show that the town experienced recession soon after agricultural deregulation due to cutbacks in farmer expenditure. The responses of a range of agriculturally-related businesses, and also community responses to recession, are explored through documentary research and in-depth interviews. It is concluded that deregulation has altered agricultural-rural economy linkages but has not lessened their importance.


Woods M, 2005. Rural Geography: Processes, Responses and Experiences in Rural Restructuring. London: Sage.An overview of the relatively new subfield of rural geography that analyzes the processes of social, economic, and political restructuring that are reshaping rural areas and people's perceptions of them. A key theme of the text is that of the


Woods M, 2011. Rural. London and New York: Routledge.

Woods M, 2012. New directions in rural studies?Journal of Rural Studies, 28(1): 1-4.Woods , M 2012 , ' New directions in rural studie? ' Journal of Rural Studies , vol 28 , no. 1 , pp. 1-4 . , 10.1016/j.jrurstud.2011.12.002


Wu C, 2001. Problems of the Sustainable Development of Agriculture and Rural Economy in China: Case Studies of Agricultural Area of Different Types. Beijing: China Environmental Science Press. (in Chinese)

Yang R, Liu Y, Long Het al., 2015. Research progress and prospect of rural transformation and reconstruction in China: Paradigms and main content.Progress in Geography, 34(8): 1019-1030. (in Chinese)


Yu F, 2014. Society Transformation and Spatial Restructuring. Beijing: China Architecture & Building Press. (in Chinese)

Zhang F, Liu Y, 2008. Dynamic mechanism and models of regional rural development in China.Acta Geographica Sinica, 63(2), 115-122. (in Chinese)lt;p>The agriculture, rural and farmer development are the principal and radical problems in the recent economic and social process in China. Nowadays, aiming at building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and modernizing the country, the project of new socialist countryside construction was advanced at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 16th Central Committee of the Party, which means advanced production, improved livelihood, a civilized social atmosphere, clean and tidy villages and efficient management. Though many researches have been conducted on the new socialist countryside construction and given some suggestions, there have been relatively few studies on the research of rural development theory. It is an original approach to the analysis of the elements and configuration of the whole rural development system to provide theoretical basis for choosing rural development models based on the view of system theory. The results are as the follows: (1) The regional system is a urban-rural integration, so it is very necessary to study rural development problem in the general framework of the whole regional system. (2) Regional rural development system is a complicated synthesis, including regional rural development core system and regional rural development exterior system. The former is composed of rural natural system, rural economic system, rural social system and rural ecological system, and the latter consists of regional development policies, international trade circumstance, etc. The essence of rural development is the process of mutual coupling and coordination of the two sub-systems. (3) The regional rural comprehensive ability lies on two aspects including the rural development inner ability and the exterior drive of urbanization and industrialization. The interaction mechanism obeys parallelogram principle in physics. The evolvement characteristics of rural development system are different in the different combinations of the inner and exterior driving forces. (4) According to the difference of rural development driving forces, rural development models are classified into two types, namely the dominant type of rural self-development and the dominant type of the exterior drive of industrialization and urbanization, and six sub-types at the second level, which are industry driving, villages and towns construction driving, labor force transfer driving, characteristic industry driving, eco-tourism development and specialized market organization driving. In conclusion, it is a scientific approach to the exploration of regional rural sustainable development models, based on the analysis of elements, construction, and function of regional rural development system and characteristics.</p>


Zhang Q, Wang H, Che. H et al., 2006. Rural Restructuring under Urban-rural Coordination Development. Beijing: China Architecture & Building Press. (in Chinese)

Zhang X, 1998. On discrimination of rural definitions.Acta Geographica Sinica, 53(4): 365-371. (in Chinese)Rural Geography is a weak branch of Human Geography in China, especially with regard to its theoretical development and some basic concepts. First of all, this paper analyses rural definitions systematically from a multi dimention point of view (occupational cological ocio cultural). As an occupational definition, ural means an area where farming is the main mode of production. As far as ecological definitions are concerned, it means a settlement whose population scale is smaller, outside urban area, with rural landscapes showing unmistakable signs of being dominated by extensive use of land, and with discrete spatial units isolated from the outside world. Socio cultural definitions are in terms of clear differences in behavior and attitude between people in rural and urban area, such as ways of life, spatial behavior and aspirations. The author thinks that all the definitions are lack of delimitations of rural totally and essentially. Rural can not be summarized by a simple definition, because it is a complicated and indistinct conception. Difficulties of defining rural lie in dynamic evolution of the whole rural, unconformity among rural elements, relativity between rural and urban, and relevant rural urban continuum, which makes the boundary between rural and urban more indefinite. To a certain extent rural is regarded as areas differing from urban greatly and the difference can be compared in many aspects such as production activities, ways of life, etc. The close extent between urban and rural represents different stages of rural development. The author suggests rurality should take place of rural definitions under the background of urbanization in the world of today. Rurality refers to the manifestation of rural characters which take urban as criteria of reference within a specified area. The author draws his conclusions. First, every region can be looked on as a unity of urbanity and rurality. The more urbanity a region is, the less rurality it will have. Urban and rural are continuous and there is not any broken locality between them. Second, the size of rurality index takes urban as unit of reference. Using different urban criteria can reflect difference of rurality and stages of its development. Finally, rurality is concerned with scale, index and method which are used in our research. We can weaken some rural characteristics and improve regional urbanity in practice such as village town planning and regional planning by estimating rurality index of different areas. In order to be favourable to urban rural planning and management we also need to put forward rural countermeasures concerned correctly.


Zhang X, 1999. Study on Rural Spatial System and Its Revolution: A Case Study of South Jiangsu Region. Nanjing: Nanjing Normal University Press. (in Chinese)

Zhang X, 2009. The basic experiences of China’s rural reform in last three decades.China Rural Discovery, (1): 1-7. (in Chinese)

Zhang X, 2014. Reconstruction of New-Type Urban-Rural Relationship. Beijing: Social Science Academic Press. (in Chinese)

Zhang Y, Jiang D, Tan Jet al., 2009. The spatial structure of valley economy development in the mountainous areas of Beijing.Acta Geographica Sinica, 64(10): 1231-1242. (in Chinese)lt;p>Valley economy, featured by valley development, is a new mode in mountainous area development, and prenents a distinguishing economic geographic pattern. The special spatial coupling relations in the distribution of different mountainous elements in valleys are new subjects for the mountain development studies, and such studies are meaningful both for researches and practices. Based on the long term researches on mountainous area development and following a brief exploration into the connotations and the spatial organizing process of valley economy, the authors analyzed the present situations of the development of valley economy in Beijing's mountainous areas, studied the characteristics and the impacts of the spatial structural changes of the valley economy in these areas, and finally proposed a rational arrangement of the spatial structure of the valley economy in Beijing. It is indicated that valley economy plays an important role in the development and functional transformation in Beijing in the new stage. Firstly, valley economy is not outlined by the administrative boundaries, and it connects most of the villages in the mountainous areas along the major transportation lines. Therefore, valley economy can exert positive influence on the development of the mountainous areas, at least in the aspects such as industrial restructuring in the mountainous areas and the coordinated development of rural and urban areas. In addition, it is found that the valley economy of Beijing has evolved in a spatial organizing stage of secondary concentration, which is characterized by resource-saving, ecological protection and industrial optimization. Therefore, the development of valley economy will be helpful to the coordination between ecological protection and economic development in the mountainous areas, and will promote the comprehensive development of these areas. The developing mode of the valley economy in the mountainous areas of China will provide the basis for the decision-making in the transformation of the functional roles of the mountainous areas of Beijing, and on the other hand, it will present experiences for the studies in the mountainous areas outside Beijing.</p>

Zhao C, 2013. Factor flowing, resource reorganization and rural renaissance: A case study of Dashan village in Gaochun Cittaslow.Urban Planning Forum, (3): 28-35. (in Chinese)As an important part of healthy urbanization in China,rural renaissance should contains two aspects:a flourishing rural areas and exportation of values created in rural areas.For traditional countryside in China,a key reason for the relative backwardness in economic development is the loss of production factors, including funds,talents and land.To realize rural renaissance,it is essential to build an unobstructed system for factor mobility between the city and the countryside. In this new system,the return of production factors will activate the countryside and promote rational allocation of resources so that rural areas get a chance to reorganize the internal structure and productivity.At the same time,the exportation of value created in the countryside to cities offers another kind of support for urban-rural interaction.As far as the Dashan Village case is concerned,this article discusses how it has promoted the circulation of urban-rural production factors after it was awarded the name of Cittaslow and how that has enventually led to renaissance.With the inflow of funds,talents,technology and so on,Dashan has seen restructured in industry development,economy income,social organization and other aspects.It also provides high-quality experience in nature and traditional culture for urban residents.This rural-to-urban export is a kind of balance and complement to urban system that helps to enrich the meaning of urban-rural harmonious development.This case study may provide useful reference for rural development in China.