Quake Shocks Sichuan
Nation demonstrates progress in dealing with severe disaster
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
Hot Links

cheap eyeglasses
Market Avenue

Print Edition> Nation
UPDATED: April 2, 2011 NO. 14 APRIL 7, 2011
Stepping Up to Challenges
Political advisors say urbanization holds the key to China's future


LAND BID: A buyer bids for a land quota at the Chongqing Rural Land Exchange on December 4, 2008 (CFP) 

"We will actively yet prudently move forward with urbanization. We will adhere to the path of urbanization with Chinese characteristics, abide by the principles of urban development and foster the sound development of urbanization," said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in his government work report delivered at the Fourth Session of the 11th National People's Congress in March.

According to China's 12th Five-Year Plan on National Social and Economic Development (2011-15), which was endorsed by the 11th National People's Congress at this year's session, the urbanization rate of China will increase from the present 47.5 percent to 51.5 percent by 2015.

"Urbanization in China is a tough task since we have such a big rural area and a large rural population," said Wang Jianlin, member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese National People's Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top advisory body.

Wang, also Vice Chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, said China's actual urbanization rate was far less than the 47.5-percent level mentioned in the 12th Five-Year Plan.

"This is because about 150 million migrant workers were counted as urban residents in statistics," said Wang. "China's actual urbanization rate will stand at around 35 percent after the number of migrant workers is deducted."

Wang said only after migrant workers had steady jobs in cities and their families became urban residents could China's urbanization rate reach 45 percent or higher in the next five years.

"Migrant workers do not have equal access to education, social welfare and other rights that residents with urban hukou (household registration) status enjoy. China's large cities are not prepared for accepting migrant workers as urban residents," Wang said.

Attesting to Wang's judgment, some mega Chinese cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, have recently put restrictions on migrant population's purchases of houses and cars as part of their efforts to deal with problems including excessively high housing prices and worsening traffic congestion.

"Against this, I think China's urbanization must focus on small and medium-sized cities, particularly county seats and larger townships," said Cai Jiming, a CPPCC National Committee member and Director of Tsinghua University's Center for Political Economy.

"It is easier for migrant workers to stay in smaller cities, which in turn help relieve the burden on large cities. For cities like Beijing and Shanghai, where the population and housing pressure is almost beyond their capacities, the prospect of migrant workers getting the same treatment local residents enjoy is daunting," he said.

Two-way approach

On March 8, a photo exhibition titled Great Changes in Towns in Hebei Province Over Three Years was held in the Hebei Provincial Museum, showing achievements of the urbanization process in the north China Province.

Statistics from the Hebei Provincial Government show, at the end of 2010, the urbanization rate in Hebei reached 43.74 percent, 1.84 percent higher than that of 2009, and the urban population reached 3.77 million, an increase of 1.49 million year on year.

Hebei is not alone in achieving rapid urbanization. Zhejiang Province in east China, which is more economically developed than Hebei, said on March 1, 2011 that its urbanization rate had reached 59 percent by the end of 2010, and the urban residents accounted for 60 percent of the total population. The percentage will increase to 70 percent at the end of this year.

"China has made undoubtedly significant achievements in urbanization," said Wang. "But, the problems are also very severe. We don't have a rational plan to make cities more convenient and comfortable for people moving in from the countryside. Besides, we put more efforts into road and housing construction but less into cultural development and social security improvement, especially the insurance system for migrant workers in large cities."

It is estimated China now has about 170 million migrant workers, and many of them have been living in cities for years.

"Migrant workers have contributed so much to China's modernization and development, now it is crucial to improve the way they are treated." said Qian Keming, a CPPCC National Committee member and Director of the Department of Market and Economic Information of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, Qian called for more attention to grain security as more farmers quit farming and instead work in cities. He quoted Premier Wen's government work report that says "ensuring adequate food for 1.3 billion Chinese people is always a top priority, and we must never treat this issue lightly."

1   2   Next  

Top Story
-Too Much Money?
-Special Coverage: Economic Shift Underway
-Quake Shocks Sichuan
-Special Coverage: 7.0-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Sichuan
-A New Crop of Farmers
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved