China began to introduce market principles and establish price mechanism to better manage land and improve land use efficiency in the late 180s. Since then, land m.arkets begin to emerge. A benchmark land price system,providing guidelines for land use rights selling and transferring, was established in order to overcome lack of market data and experiences in land transaction. The benchmark prices of land use rights are determined by land use, land use density (floor-land ratio), land grades, land improvement, and tenant resettlement costs. This paper first conducts a formal analysis based on modern urban economic theory. The formal model provides a theoretical foundation in which the bench mark land price system is assessed and evaluated in terms of land use and urban development. The paper then concludes thatthe benchmark price system has two theoretical problens. One is associated with the fact that floor-land ratio plays an important role in land price determination whereas the theory suggests the other way around. That is, floor-land ratio depends on land prices. The other problem is that the benchmark land price system does not provide adequate room for the substitution between land and capital inputs. The substitution is a key in achieving land use efficiency in land markets and urban development process. It is concluded that the practice of the benchmark land price system is at odd with reforms that aim to introduce market principles and mechanism to guide resource uses. Therefore, it is recommended that further land policy reform should be taken.
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