Mass Migration Planned For China’s Rural Population

A New York Times video and a report by Ian Johnson state that the Chinese government plans to move 250,000,000 people from farms to housing in cities in the next 12 to 15 years with a goal to place 70% of its citizens in urban areas. Johnson draws on past rural reforms to outline the problems this shift may bring:

This will decisively change the character of China, where the Communist Party insisted for decades that most peasants, even those working in cities, remain tied to their tiny plots of land to ensure political and economic stability. Now, the party has shifted priorities, mainly to find a new source of growth for a slowing economy that depends increasingly on a consuming class of city dwellers.

The shift is occurring so quickly, and the potential costs are so high, that some fear is once again the site of radical social engineering. Over the past decades, the Communist Party has flip-flopped on peasants’ rights to use land: giving small plots to farm during 1950s land reform, collectivizing a few years later, restoring rights at the start of the reform era and now trying to obliterate small landholders.[Source]

Logistical problems involving local government spending may also postpone the $6.5 trillion dollar plan. The Taipei Times reports:

“The plan could be delayed. Top leaders have seen potential risks if the program cannot be kept on the right path,” said an economist at a top think tank which advises the Cabinet.

“The leadership aims to jumpstart reforms, but local governments see this in a different perspective — they view this as the last opportunity to boost investment,” said the economist, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.[Source]

Read more about urbanization in China, via CDT.

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