Rogers, S., Li, J., Lo, K., Guo, H., & Li, C. Moving millions to eliminate poverty: China’s rapidly evolving practice of poverty resettlement. Development Policy Review.


Unlike in other places where resettlement is largely a by‐product of large infrastructure projects, in China, resettlement is used as a tool for poverty alleviation. With the introduction of Xi Jinping’s Targeted Poverty Alleviation, and the goal to end absolute poverty by 2020, resettlement has become central to China’s poverty‐alleviation practice. Rather than investing in dispersed, remote villages, the Chinese government prefers to bring people to development by constructing high‐density resettlement sites in small towns and peri‐urban areas: up to 16 million people are being resettled between 2016 and 2020. Despite the scale of these interventions, the English‐language literature on poverty resettlement is limited and is yet to detail rapidly evolving policies or how these are playing out on the ground. In this paper we examine how poverty resettlement projects are working under Targeted Poverty Alleviation, with a focus on the implementation and impacts of, as well as overlapping motives for, projects in Shaanxi and Gansu. Our analysis draws on semi‐structured interviews and secondary data collected in multiple sites in two provinces. Our findings show that China’s intense focus on resettlement as a tool for poverty alleviation has resulted in reduced financial burdens on those resettled, but is also engendering new conflicts at the local level. Our analysis highlights the contested nature of state‐driven resettlement for poverty alleviation and raises questions about the relevance of this practice for other developing countries.