China’s Great Uprooting: Moving 250 Million Into Cities

China’s Urban Billion(…..) The Country’s new prime minister, Li Keqiang, indicated at his inaugural news conference in March urbanization was one of his top priorities. He also cautioned, however, that it would require a series of an accompanying legal changes “to overcome various problems in course of urbanization.” Some of these problems could include chronic urban unemployment if jobs are not available, more protests from skeptical farmers unwilling to move. Instead of creating wealth, the urbanization could result in a permanent underclass in big Chinese cities and destruction of rural culture and religion. Government has been pledging a comprehensive urbanization plan for more than two years now. It was originally to have been presented at the National People’s Congress in March, but various concerns delayed that, according to people close to government. Some of them include the challenge of financing the effort, of coordinating among the various ministries and of balancing the rights of farmers, whose land has increasingly been taken for urban projects. These worries delayed a high-level conference to formalize the plan this month. The plan has now been delayed until the fall, government advisers say. Central leaders are said to be concerned spending will lead to inflation and bad debt. Such concerns may have been behind the call in a recent government report for farmers’ property rights to be protected. Released in March, report said China must “guarantee farmers’ property rights and interests.” Land would remain owned by the state, though, so farmers would not have ownership rights even under new blueprint. On ground, however, the new wave of urbanization is well under way. Almost every province has large-scale programs to move farmers into housing towers, and with farmers’ plots then given to corporations or municipalities to manage. Efforts have been made to improve the attractiveness of urban life, but the farmers caught up in the programs typically have no choice but to leave their land. The broad trend began decades ago. In the early 1980s, about 80% of Chinese lived in the countryside versus 47% today, plus an additional 17% that works in cities but is classified as rural. The idea is to speed up this process and achieve an urbanized China much faster than would occur organically. The Skeptics say the government’s headlong rush to urbanize is driven by a vision of modernity that has failed elsewhere. In Brazil and Mexico, urbanization was also seen as a way to bolster economic growth. But among the results were expansion of slums and of a stubborn unemployed underclass, according to experts. “There’s this feeling we have to modernize, we have to urbanize and this is our national-development strategy,” said Gao Yu, China country director for Landesa Rural Development Institute, based in Seattle. Referring to the disastrous Maoist campaign to industrialize overnight, he added, “It’s almost like another Great Leap Forward”. Primary motivation for the urbanization push is to change China’s economic structure, with growth based on domestic demand for products instead of relying so on export. In theory, new urbanites mean vast new opportunities for construction companies, public transportation, utilities, appliance makers, break from cycle of farmers consuming only what they produce. “If half of China’s population starts consuming, growth is inevitable,” said Li Xiangyang, vice director of Institute of World Economics + Politics, part of a government research institute. “They are living in rural areas where they do not consume” (…..)


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

One Response to China’s Great Uprooting: Moving 250 Million Into Cities

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Transmigration (moving people from rural areas to urban centers) follows the Western economic model of industrialization and urbanization. The only difference is the speed in which it takes place in China. In the west, the transmigration phenomenon took centuries while China wants to accomplish it in a few decades. Similarly to the US, China’s economy will be dominated by the housing sector as the main engine of growth. The US model worked fine, so will the Chinese model directed by a powerful central government.


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