The Qingdao Land Regime—Lessons Learned
During the coming ten years, the urbanization program in China will cause a migration, which never happened before in human history. However, this urbanization means higher density, higher land rents and land prices. This urbanization process brings chances, but is also a challenge. Speculation, destabilization of the financial markets, a distribution bias, a lack of access to affordable housing are only some issues. Moreover, the problem arises of how to pay the necessary infrastructure, compensation etc. How to deal with all these challenges?
The subsequent article illustrates that a view back in economic history might be useful. The story is about Qingdao, which in the beginning of the 20th century was a German colony (for some 16 years). To speak it out clearly: This text does not intend to defend colonialism. Colonialism was a crime, and the German colony was basically no exception. However, the example Qingdao is interesting because it faced some challenges (such as “land gambling”), which are quite similar to those of today (although at a lower scale). It demonstrates patterns of land policy which even might be used today, in order to get the problems controlled. Within the Qingdao experiment the first time a modern tax and tenure-reform experiment was put into place – not by land reformers, but by military administrators, for quite practical reasons. The Qingdao example is also interesting, since it demonstrates that some ideas of the land reform movement (Henry George, John Stuart Mill, Adolf Damaschke) could be put into practice - with limited money and limited capacity. Moreover, the Qingdao example is interesting because it influenced the ideas of Sun Yat-sen. Even more, it influenced the contemporary land- and tax laws in Taiwan, and might be considered as one of the causes for her economic performance. Although, we will emphasize the importance of the Qingdao experiment, we also will show why it was far away from being perfect.
The subsequent article first provides an overview about the historical background of the colony. Than the land regime is illustrated and it is discussed whether or not might be considered as a realization of a Georgist blueprint. In the following chapter, a brief economic evaluation is done. Afterwards, the lessons learned regarding the political economy are discussed. The text closes with a historical note on the connection between the Qingdao regime, the ideas of Sun Yat-sen and their impact, in particular regarding contemporary Taiwan.