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Custom, Land and Livelihood in Rural South ChinaThe Traditional Land Law of Hong Kong's New Territories, 1744-1948$
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Patrick H. Hase

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9789888139088

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888139088.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HONG KONG SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hongkong.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hong Kong University Press, 2022. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HKSO for personal use.date: 06 July 2022

The Imperial Land Law

The Imperial Land Law

(p.25) 1 The Imperial Land Law
Custom, Land and Livelihood in Rural South China

Patrick H. Hase

Hong Kong University Press

Under Imperial Land Law in traditional China all land belonged to the Emperor. No person could occupy arable land without an imperial grant. The imperial authorities acknowledged the existence of an imperial grant by accepting land tax from the grantee. Only the land tax-payer or his short-term tenant had the right to till the ground and no intermediate lordship is allowed between the cultivator and the emperor. Grants of land could be revoked if the land had changed significantly in its usage. Sometimes permissions were given to grantees to open land. The land has to be surveyed periodically to ensure that all arable were registered. However by the late nineteenth century, the surveys were done only very occasionally: coupled with the freezing of the tax quota in 1711, this meant that many people were evading land tax and a good deal of the Imperial Land Law was unenforced.

Keywords:   Chinese Imperial Land Law, Arable Land, Land Tax, Imperial Grant, Tax Quota, Hong Kong, New Territories, Customary Land Law

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