The Legacy of Property Provides Stability

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Capitalism in the Countryside
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As soon as a person has property, he has roots. When he has roots, he starts to worry...

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<p>For the first 30 years of the New China, from &rsquo;49 to &rsquo;79, we essentially had a propertyless society. It wasn&rsquo;t just me who didn&rsquo;t have any property. Even department heads also were propertyless. They made more, about 200 RMB a month, but their houses were government owned. Even Mao Zedong&rsquo;s furniture was provided to him by the State Council. I have documents here that show Mao Zedong&rsquo;s furniture was rented. His bed, his cabinets, everything was rented. Every month he paid, I think, 80 RMB in rent for his furniture. At most, you owned a watch, or a bicycle, or a radio. Radio&rsquo;s were rare. All of these were very rare. If a single family had all of these, then they were a rich family. A family normally had, at most, a few hundred RMB worth of property, less than $100. After this 30 years, especially after housing reform -- before, the government would give out housing, now people were required to buy their own houses -- &nbsp;I feel like the great majority of urban Chinese bought a house, some even two or three houses, they also bought storefronts. Rural Chinese built their own houses. If you looked in the countryside around here 30 years ago, before the Reform and Opening, you would see all of the houses were made with straw. If people in the countryside had a roof made with tiles, they were certainly a very prosperous family. Now, there are almost no tile-roofed houses left, almost all of them are made with concrete. The peasants have their own houses, they built them themselves. Most people in the cities have bought their houses. A large proportion of city residents have bought cars. At this moment, in 2008, China has produced a segment of society, probably 300 to 500 million people, that has a certain amount of property. As soon as a person has property, he has roots. When he has roots, he starts to worry. He doesn&rsquo;t want revolution, chaos, or riots. He says, &quot;I have property already, don't indiscriminately take it away from me, don't rob me.&quot; Society is stable when a portion of society has property. He hopes that this portion of society, the middle class, gets larger and larger. And I think that we are really heading very quickly in that direction. The middle class is growing. The more people have property, the more stable society is, the more controlled people are. Because people have other things to worry about, this is the way i understand it. Take Chengdu as an example, a lot of the people in Chengdu, even normal workers, have bought cars. This would have been unimaginable just 10 years ago. I think this is a very significant change, because this property will be transfered to their children and then society has this continuity and stability, this attachment. Before, there was nothing to be passed down, there was no concept of heritage, a concept that we now have. It&rsquo;s a very significant change that will influence the way the entire structure of society changes, including political change.</p>

Fan Jianchuan explains how China has gone from an essentially propertyless society to a society with a burgeoning middle class and how the proliferation of property has affected society.