HUKOU DONE!: Zhang Xiongwei, a migrant worker in Shanghai, shows his new document of household registration as an urban resident. China now converts more farmers to urban residents with city household registration, or hukou, than ever before (LIU YING)
Secondly, the plan emphasizes the integrated development of new-type urbanization, new-type industrialization, IT application and agricultural modernization. This is also a necessary requirement of China's drive toward modernization, because industrialization is the driving force for development, agricultural modernization represents its foundation, IT applications bring new elements and vigor necessary for development and urbanization serves as a platform for the entire process. Integration of these four elements will push forward the process of modernization.
Xu said the third aspect of the new-type urbanization is reflected in optimizing macro-level city layouts. Based on major city clusters, China will boost coordinated development of cities and small towns. The three city clusters, namely, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, are home to 18 percent of the country's total population and create 36 percent of the national GDP with only 2.8 percent of the country's land. However, they now face intensifying ecological pressure and increasing international competition, and need readjustment, transformation and upgrading. Hence, the plan requires the relevant authorities to foster and develop new city clusters, such as the Chengdu-Chongqing region, the Central China Plain and the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, in central and west China where there are more resources and a better environment, in order to promote the balanced development of geographical space and create new regional economic growth poles.
Now China has 142 cities with a population of 1 million or above, with six cities each having a population of 10 million or above. The country also has 10 cities with a population between 5-10 million. Some of these megacities are facing a conflict between their growing population and decreasing capacity. There must be effective regulations to tackle this problem. Therefore, the plan requires the authorities to intensify the integration of transportation and information networks, promote the distribution of key industries and public resources and move out some of the megacities' economic capacity and other functions, so as to help small and medium-sized cities and small towns to develop industries and attract residents.
Fourthly, ecological progress is emphasized. The plan says China will promote green, circular and low-carbon development; conserve water, land, energy and other resources and use them efficiently; intensify ecological restoration and environmental treatment; promote the development of green cities and smart cities; and encourage green lifestyles and low-carbon city construction, operation and management methods. The country vows to reduce the negative effects of urbanization on nature and the environment as much as possible.
The fifth aspect is to stress cultural continuity and focuses on the special features of different cities. The plan requires local governments to accentuate these differences and promote the diversified development of cities according to their own natural, historical and cultural characteristics.
Lastly, the plan stresses reform that will set up a mechanism conducive to the healthy development of urbanization. The plan states that China will comprehensively reform key areas concerning people, land and funds, gradually change the urban-rural dual structure and integrate the developed and underdeveloped areas in cities.
"These six parts represent the new ideas and the implementation focus of the plan," Xu said.
Securing funds is important for the process of urbanization, said Liu Kun, Vice Minister of Finance, at the March 19 press conference. It is envisioned that the problem will be addressed mainly by making institutional innovations. "We will speed up the reform in the financial and taxation system and the investment and financing mechanisms, make innovations in financial services, open up market access, and build a diversified and sustainable financial guarantee mechanism," he said.
The MOF will also establish a mechanism that connects fiscal transfer payments with the urbanized agricultural population, further improve the fiscal transfer payment system and promote equitable and universal public services including social security, medical treatment, education and culture.
In securing capital for urbanization, the MOF will reinforce the power of local government bonds in promoting urbanization, grant more rights to local governments to issue bonds in accordance with the law, improve the current system of local government bonds and explore a means of local government bond issuance. The ministry will promote the cooperative model of government and social capital, in which the government, by means of franchise rights, fair pricing, fiscal subsidies and other open and transparent measures, clarifies the benefit-cost mechanism in advance and attracts social capital to participate in the construction of the infrastructure necessary for urbanization.