China’s Great Uprooting: Moving 250 Million Into Cities


This article was about China going forth with its plan to move 250 million rural residents into newly constructed towns and cities over the next dozen years. This event has the potential to spike a new wave of growth or stagnant the country with problems for generations to come. The government’s shift towards this strategy appears to be motivated by the slowing economy that depends increasingly on a consuming class of city dwellers. Across China, bulldozers are transforming the landscape by leveling villages that date to long-ago dynasties and building in its place new urban schools and hospitals. The ultimate goal of the government’s modernization plan is to fully integrate 70 percent of the country’s population (roughly 900 million people) into city living by 2025. The rapid change in demographic is evident in Liaocheng, which is now home to several 20-story towers housing now-landless farmers who have been thrown into city life. Many are these people are concern about their future livelihood in city life as money they received for their farm land runs out. While, in the short term, the economic condition of many have improved in the mass move to cities, unemployment and other social preoccupations has come along with their dislocation from the farm life. Some young people earn monthly wages of $150 USD, which is just enough to survive. China’s new Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, indicated at his inaugural news conference in March his commitment to urbanization. To overcome some of the problems that come with urbanization, the Prime Minister will have to make legal changes aiming to protect the stream of revenue to ex-farmers who gave up their land. Among the problems that arise from urbanization the most common are: chronic urban unemployment if jobs are not available, and civil unrest by increase in protests from skeptical farmers unwilling to move. If not done properly, urbanization could result devastating economic situation for China by creating a permanent underclass population in big Chinese cities and the destruction of a rural culture and religion. It appears that urbanization is unavoidable for China but the benefits to the rural population lag behind the benefits that city folks enjoy making the transition a mixed bag for many as they trade the source of revenue (their land) for an uncertain future in city life.

-Sofia Guerra

Topic and category: Human Population (urbanization)


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