Abstract The article by Ansell, Hay and Griffin, 1 suggests a number of interesting, if guarded, conclusions about the impact of private production on the equality of income between teams and between households in Chinese communes. In general, the authors argue that an increase in the amount of income generated from private rather than collective sources may well be having an equalizing effect at both levels. As they rightly point out, developments in China of this nature are of great interest to all those concerned with alternative development strategies, given the stated aim of previous Chinese policies to produce growth with a high degree of equity. The major changes in Chinese rural policy in recent years have led to considerable re-evaluation of past performance, both within China and among outside observers. Furthermore, it is by no means clear that a stable set of policies is yet in place. In particular the introduction of the many types of production responsibility systems is having a major impact on almostall aspects of Chinese agriculture. Within this context, it becomes all the more critical to ensure that hypotheses and conclusions drawn from recent developments are soundly based and take account of the comprehensive restructuring which is underway.