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The 7 Cs of rural credit in China

Calum G. Turvey (Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA)
Guangwen He (China Agricultural University, Beijing, P.R. China)
Rong Kong (Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University, Yangling, P.R. China)
Jiujie Ma (Renmin University of China, Beijing, P.R. China)
Patrick Meagher (University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA)

Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies

ISSN: 2044-0839

Article publication date: 28 October 2011




The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the farm and rural credit system in China. To do this the authors use the so‐called “7 Cs” of credit (these include: Credit, Character, Capacity, Capital, Condition, Capability, and Collateral) and for each “C” provide some aspect of importance related to agricultural finance.


This paper is largely based on a survey of 897 farm households in Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, and extensive interviews of agricultural lenders conducted in the summer and fall of 2009. These data are used in simple form and in regression form to explain a variety of credit issues in China.


A number of key factors related to credit delivery and demand are found. First, using the 7 Cs as a guide proved to be very fruitful for disentangling the many institutional and cultural facets affecting rural credit in China. Under “Character” the authors discuss the cultural characteristics of the Chinese farmer in terms of informal lending and borrowing; under “Capacity” the authors discuss the challenges of delivering credit to farms with limited resources; under “Condition” the authors discuss group guarantees and credit worthy villages, credit rationing and insurance and incomplete markets; under “Capability” the authors discuss income inequality and challenges in economies of scale and size; and for “Collateral” the authors discuss the implications of lack of collateral and limitations on farm economic growth due to the collectivization of land and the potential for agricultural lending from the transferability and mortgagability of land or forestry use rights.

Research limitations/implications

Although the assessment provides a great deal of breadth and depth across many credit‐related issues in China, it is not an exhaustive study. Agricultural and rural credit in China is very complex and in many instance under developed. The survey results from Shaanxi and Gansu tell a story that is consistently told throughout China, but the authors would caution against using the data to characterize farm credit across China as a whole.

Social implications

Large swaths of China have either no or very rudimentary credit services. Even in areas where credit is in supply there are issues of poverty that could be aided with credit access and delivery. In order to improve livelihoods through credit institutions, it is important to understand rural credit in many dimensions. This paper takes a step in that direction.


Despite the importance of rural credit in China, it is largely understudied and not well understood. This paper makes progress in providing such an understanding. Our reasoning for using our unique approach is that by understanding the 7 Cs of credit one comes to understand the elemental characteristics of the credit decision from the lender's point of view but in a way that takes into account conditions at the farm level. The 7 Cs provide an objective approach to credit assessment that balances both the supply of and demand for credit.



Turvey, C.G., He, G., Kong, R., Ma, J. and Meagher, P. (2011), "The 7 Cs of rural credit in China", Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 100-133.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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