In one of the biggest rural transformations in world history, China’s land reforms through the twentieth century involved first the redistribution of farmland, then farming cooperatives, and collectivisation of land under the commune system. In this episode, we speak with Prof. Yan Hairong, a scholar on China’s rural transformations. She explains how, in the decades after the revolution, initial freedoms to sell produce and land, hire labour and charge interest on credit were revoked. And from the late 1970s, a rural reform programme dismantled the communes, decollectivised farming and vested use rights to land in households. Now, as a major industrial power, China’s land continues to be owned at village level, and cannot be sold, but families can rent out their use rights – which has seen the emergence of agribusinesses in rural areas. In the largest labour migration in the world, over 200 million people from the countryside work in cities, but retain rights to their rural land.