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Investment in Cities – 100 million more people moving to China’s cities by 2020

March 19, 2014

Shanghai 300

On Sunday 16th March 2014, China released a plan that recognises, prepares for and helps manage the flow of rural residents into cities. The Government foresees one of the largest migrations in history – 100 million more people moving to China’s cities by 2020. They therefore anticipate having to provide extensive basic services as well roads, railways, hospitals, schools and housing. Every city that exceeds 200,000 in population is to be linked by rail and expressways, while every city exceeding 500,000 is to have high-speed rail service.

The ambitious, 30 chapter plan covers topics that include Internet access, building standards, environmental protection and safety.

The need for urbanization, the plan asserts, is part of a broader move to shift China’s structure away from growth based on exports and investment, and toward domestic demand. Many economists believe that urbanites consume more than farmers, who tend to be more self-sufficient.

But the plan also sees urbanization as part of China’s future. It states that “urbanization is modernization” and “urbanization is an inevitable requirement for promoting social progress,” noting that every developed country is urbanized and industrialized. The plan strongly emphasizes the improvement of quality of life for new city residents through increased government spending.

The other part of the urbanization plan is to better integrate former rural residents who are currently living in cities.  Currently, nearly 54 percent of Chinese live in cities, but only 36 percent are registered as urban residents. That disparity — representing about 250 million people — are former farmers living in cities but not permitted to register as city dwellers. That means they cannot send their children to local schools, use hospitals at subsidized rates or enjoy other benefits of city life.

China wants to raise the proportion of urban residents to about 60 per cent of the total population by 2020, from the current 54 percent. China’s goal remains far below the average urbanisation rate of about 80 per cent in developed nations.

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