Posts tagged ‘Urbanization’

26/03/2014

A $6.8 Trillion Price Tag for China’s Urbanization – Businessweek

China has finally put a price tag on its massive plan for urbanization, and it’s a big one. The cost of bringing an additional couple of hundred million people to cities over the next seven years? Some 42 trillion yuan ($6.8 trillion), announced an official from China’s Ministry of Finance last week.

Shanghai's potential future development modeled at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center

“The flaws in the previous model, in which urban construction mostly relied on land sales and fiscal revenue, have emerged in recent years, and the model is unsustainable,” warned Wang Bao’an, vice minister of finance, on March 17. His comments came one day after China’s State Council and the Central Committee of the Communist Party released the “National New-type Urbanization Plan (2014-2020),” which aims to lift the proportion of Chinese living in cities to 60 percent by 2020, from 53.7 percent now.

A timely report issued by the World Bank and the Development Research Center of the State Council provides suggestions as to how to pay the big bill. Released today, Urban China: Toward Efficient, Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanization, is the second joint effort by the two organizations, coming just over two years after the publication of an earlier report on economic reform called China 2030.

via A $6.8 Trillion Price Tag for China’s Urbanization – Businessweek.

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21/03/2014

China Wants Its People in the Cities – Reuters

From: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-20/china-wants-its-people-in-the-cities

Thirty-five years ago, when paramount leader Deng Xiaoping launched gaige kaifang, or “reform and opening,” China was a much more agricultural country, with less than a fifth of its people living in cities. Since then hundreds of millions of rural residents have left the countryside, many seeking jobs in the export-oriented factories and construction sites that Deng’s policy promoted.

Commercial and residential buildings stand in the Luohu district of Shenzhen, China, on Dec. 18, 2013 In 1978 there were no Chinese cities with more than 10 million people and only two with 5 million to 10 million; by 2010, six cities had more than 10 million and 10 had from 5 million to 10 million. By the following year, a majority of Chinese were living in urban areas for the first time in the country’s history.

Now urbanization has been designated a national priority and is expected to occur even more rapidly. On March 16, Premier Li Keqiang’s State Council and the central committee of the Communist Party released the “National New-type Urbanization Plan (2014-2020),” which sets clear targets: By 2020 the country will have 60 percent of its people living in cities, up from 53.7 percent now.

What’s the ultimate aim of creating a much more urban country? Simply put, all those new, more free-spending urbanites are expected to help drive a more vibrant economy, helping wean China off its present reliance on unsustainable investment-heavy growth. “Domestic demand is the fundamental impetus for China’s development, and the greatest potential for expanding domestic demand lies in urbanization,” the plan says.

To get there, China’s policymakers know they have to loosen the restrictive hukou, the household registration policy that today keeps many Chinese migrants second-class urban residents. China will ensure that the proportion of those who live in the cities with full urban hukou, which provides better access to education, health care, and pensions, will rise from last year’s level of 35.7 percent of city dwellers to 45 percent by 2020. That means 100 million rural migrant workers, out of a total 270 million today, will have to be given urban household registration.

To prepare for the new masses, China knows it must vastly expand urban infrastructure. The plan calls for ensuring that expressways and railways link all cities with more than 200,000 people by 2020; high-speed rail is expected to link cities with more than a half million by then. Civil aviation will expand to be available to 90 percent of the population.

Access to affordable housing projects funded by the government is also expected to rise substantially. The target is to provide social housing (roughly analogous to public housing in the U.S.) to 23 percent of the urban populace by 2020; that’s up from an estimated 14.3 percent last year, according to Tao Wang, China economist at UBS Securities (UBS) in Hong Kong. That means providing social housing for an additional 90 million people, amounting to about 30 million units, over the next seven years, Wang writes in a March 18 report.

The urbanization plan appears to face several big challenges. First, the government wants to maintain restrictions on migration to China’s biggest cities, which also happen to be its most popular. Instead, the plan calls for liberalizing migration to small and midsize cities, or those with less than 5 million. Whether migrants will willingly flock to designated smaller cities, rather than the megacities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, is an unanswered question.

Another obstacle to faster urbanization is that the plan doesn’t propose how to reform China’s decades-old land tenure system. Changing the system could allow farmers more freedom to mortgage, rent, or sell their land.

Finally, one of the most daunting problems is figuring out how to pay for implementing the ambitious urbanization targets. The cost of rolling out a much more extensive social welfare network will be substantial (today, most Chinese in the countryside have far lower levels of medical and pension coverage, as well as far inferior schools); building the new urban infrastructure will also be expensive.

 

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17/03/2014

China pushes forward urbanizing migrant workers – Xinhua | English.news.cn

China pledged increasing efforts to help migrant workers win urbanite status, removing restrictions in towns and lowering threshold in big cities, said a national plan unveiled on Sunday.

The country promised to help migrant workers from countryside to settle down in cities, by fully eliminating restriction of household registration in towns and small cities and gradually easing restrictions in medium-sized cities, according to the 2014-2020 urbanization plan released by the State Council, China’s Cabinet.

Reasonable conditions for settling in big cities will be set, while population in mega cities will remain to be strictly controlled, the plan said.

The plan also granted city services and public welfare to the migrants.

In China, cities with population between three million and five million are defined as big cities, while those above five million are mega cities.

via China pushes forward urbanizing migrant workers – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

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30/07/2013

China urbanization cost could top $106 billion a year: think-tank

Reuters: “The cost of settling China’s rural workers into city life in the government’s urbanization drive could be about 650 billion yuan ($106 billion) a year, the equivalent of 5.5 percent of fiscal revenue last year, a government think-tank said on Tuesday.

A man rides an escalator near Shanghai Tower (R, under construction), Jin Mao Tower (C) and the Shanghai World Financial Center (L) at the Pudong financial district in Shanghai July 4, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The figure is based on the assumption that 25 million people a year settle in cities, with the government spending the money on making sure they enjoy the same benefits in healthcare, housing and schools that city residents have, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences(CASS) said.

“I think the biggest obstacle for turning rural migrant workers into urban citizens is the cost issue,” Wei Houkai, a researcher at CASS, told a news conference, adding that to achieve equality of treatment could take until 2025.

Millions of migrant workers from the countryside and smaller towns work in China’s big cities, often in low-paid manual work, but lack access to education, health and other services tied to the country’s strict household registration – or hukou – system.

China sees the urbanization drive as pushing domestic consumption, which it wants to make the main engine of growth for the economy, replacing exports and manufacturing and investment.

Rural migrant laborers only earned an average 2,049 yuan a month in 2011, or 59 percent of average urban workers’ salary, CASS added.

But they need to pay about 18,000 yuan annually per capita to be able to live in cities and another 100,000 yuan on average for housing, it said.”

via China urbanization cost could top $106 billion a year: think-tank | Reuters.

31/05/2013

Urbanisation: Some are more equal than others

The Economist: “FOR many migrants who do not live in factory dormitories, life in the big city looks like the neighbourhood of Shangsha East Village: a maze of alleys framed by illegally constructed apartment buildings in the boomtown of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong. There are at least 200 buildings, many of them ten storeys tall (see picture). They are separated by only a metre or so, hence the name “handshake buildings”—residents of neighbouring blocks can reach out from their windows and high-five.

The buildings are China’s favelas: built illegally on collectively owned rural land. Rents are cheap. An eight-square-metre (86-square-foot) flat costs less than $100 a month. They symbolise both the success of the government’s urbanisation policy and also its chronic failures. China has managed a more orderly system of urbanisation than many developing nations. But it has done so on the cheap. Hundreds of millions of migrants flock to build China’s cities and manufacture the country’s exports. But the cities have done little to reward or welcome them, investing instead in public services and infrastructure for their native residents only. Rural migrants living in the handshake buildings are still second-class citizens, most of whom have no access to urban health care or to the city’s high schools. Their homes could be demolished at any time.

China’s new leaders now say this must change. But it is unclear whether they have the resolve to force through reforms, most of which are costly or opposed by powerful interests, or both. Li Keqiang, the new prime minister, is to host a national conference this year on urbanisation. The agenda may reveal how reformist he really is.

He will have no shortage of suggestions. An unusually public debate has unfolded in think-tanks, on microblogs and in state media about how China should improve the way it handles urbanisation. Some propose that migrants in cities should, as quickly as possible, be given the same rights to services as urban dwellers. Others insist that would-be migrants should first be given the right to sell their rural plot of land to give them a deposit for their new urban life. Still others say the government must allow more private and foreign competition in state-controlled sectors of the economy such as health care, which would expand urban services for all, including migrants. Most agree the central government must bear much more of the cost of public services and give more power to local governments to levy taxes.

Any combination of these options would be likely to raise the income of migrants, help them to integrate into city life and narrow the gap between the wealthy and the poor, which in China is among the widest in the world. Such reforms would also spur on a slowing economy by boosting domestic consumption.

Officials know, too, that the longer reforms are delayed the greater the chances of social unrest. “It is already a little too late,” Chen Xiwen, a senior rural policy official, said last year of providing urban services to migrants. “If we don’t deal with it now, the conflict will grow so great that we won’t be able to proceed.”

Yet Mr Li, the prime minister, would do well to dampen expectations. The problems of migrants and of income inequality are deeply entrenched in two pillars of discriminatory social policy that have stood since the 1950s and must be dealt with before real change can come: the household registration system, or hukou, and the collective ownership of rural land.”

via Urbanisation: Some are more equal than others | The Economist.

See also: https://chindia-alert.org/2013/05/14/right-thing-to-do-comes-with-a-price-tag/

23/05/2013

* China urbanization plan hits roadblock over spending fears – sources

Reuters: “China’s plan to spend $6.5 trillion on urbanization to bolster the economy is running into snags, sources close to the government said, as top leaders fear another spending binge could push up local debt levels and inflate a property bubble.

A general view of newly built houses at Dadun village of Lingshui ethnic Li Autonomous County, Hainan province, in this January 18, 2013 file photo. REUTERS-Stringer-Files

Premier Li Keqiang has rejected an urbanization proposal drafted by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), seeking changes to put more emphasis on economic reform, according to the sources, who are familiar with the matter.

Many local authorities have already lobbied to get funding for projects, ringing alarm bells among top leaders in Beijing.

State-owned China Development Bank recently pledged to lend 150 billion yuan ($24.47 billion) to southeastern Fujian province to support its urbanization and channel 30 billion yuan into urban projects in central Anhui province, according to Chinese media.

“The urbanization 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.

China plans to spend some 40 trillion yuan ($6.5 trillion) to bring 400 million people to its cities over the next decade as leaders such as Li try to sustain economic growth that slowed to a 13-year low of 7.8 percent in 2012.

Li, the driving force behind urbanization, has turned more cautious following warnings from leading academics over the risks, said the think-tank sources who are involved in the policy discussions.

The NDRC is racing against the clock to amend the long-term plan in a bid to publish it by the end of June.”

via Exclusive :China urbanization plan hits roadblock over spending fears – sources | Reuters.

09/05/2013

* China’s Vision for a ‘New’ Urbanization

WSJ: “China watchers are all abuzz about urbanization, which is supposed to be a focus of reform. But what does the term mean? After all, China has been urbanizing for 30 years, which has meant building roads, subways, ports — and relying more and more on infrastructure spending, which seems to have less and less payoff these days.

The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s state planning agency, is due to produce a report later this year laying out a path for a new kind of urbanization.

Li Tie, director general of the NDRC’s China Center for Urban Development, said the report involves a “new model of city development,” which would include three main parts:

First, there would be a focus on “low carbon” development — meaning trying to assure Chinese cities ease their horrendous pollution.

Second, would be reform of the household registration, or hukou, system. For smaller cities the system would be “totally liberalized,” Mr. Li said. He didn’t lay out his thoughts fully, but seemed to suggest that all residents would enjoy the same rights and benefits regardless of where they were born. For larger cities, migrants would get “resident cards” which assured them “improved treatment” and access to social services.

Third, China would look to increase “clustering” in big cities. Mr. Li didn’t explain what he meant by that, but in urban planning speak, clustering usually means trying to develop industries or specialties in a city or group of cities. That’s a way to build on the intellectual frisson of urban life, where new ideas can spawn new industries.

Those proposals address some of the most vexing problems with life in China’s cities: pollution, widening social inequality and lack of innovation. They also suggest that China’s leaders are committed to making urbanization into something more than another building spree. But changes would be costly and could require China’s central government to take a much more active role in overseeing—and paying for—urban growth than it has in the past. Whether China’s new leaders are ready to take such steps will become clear over the next year or two.”

via China’s Vision for a ‘New’ Urbanization – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

07/03/2013

* China faces social, financial risks in urbanization push

See also today’s reblog from China Daily Mail about the property bubble.

Reuters: “China’s urbanization drive could fuel social unrest over land disputes and pose financial risks if money is thrown around recklessly, a senior communist party official and a leading economist said on Thursday.

Wang Baiqiang prepares to go to work at a shoe factory in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province February 18, 2013. REUTERS-Carlos Barria

Shifting people from the countryside to cities is a policy priority for China’s new leaders as they seek to sustain economic growth that last year slowed to a 13-year low of 7.8 percent. The government hopes 60 percent of China’s population of almost 1.4 billion will be urban residents by 2020.

The urban population jumped to above 700 million from less than 200 million in the previous three decades, but that explosion has triggered sometimes violent clashes over expropriation of farmland for development as well as water shortages, pollution and other problems.

“These are severe challenges as we are trying to sustain the urbanization process,” said Chen Xiwen, head of the Office of Central Rural Work Leading Group, the top body which guides China’s farm policy. “Many people have worries and such worries are understandable,” he told a news conference on the sidelines of China’s annual parliament session.

The government must protect farmers from losing their land in the process as local governments have been relying heavily on land sales to finance local investment, Chen said. “If the urbanization process becomes a process of depriving and harming farmers’ interests, it cannot be sustained and society cannot maintain stability.””

via China faces social, financial risks in urbanization push | Reuters.

03/03/2013

* Migrant workers feel like outsiders in mainland cities, says survey

SCMP: “Despite spending years working in mainland cities, migrant workers still feel like outsiders and say their only sense of happiness comes from their families, a Renmin University survey has found.

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They also see themselves as the bottom of society and feel alienated because they have no influence on their lives or society in general, the survey found, with young migrant workers even gloomier about their prospects.

The findings underscore the challenge facing the new administration in realising premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang‘s high-profile commitment to people-oriented urbanisation.

The survey of 2,011 migrant workers, conducted in 20 major cities, found their sense of happiness came mainly from the satisfaction of their basic needs, such as income and education, how close they were to home and how often they could see their children.

Most said they felt that their social standing was very low and they were less happy than those who thought more highly of themselves. More than half of those with low opinions of themselves felt lonely, bored and incapable of having an impact on their lives or society.

The survey also found that migrant workers were not necessarily happier in more economically developed cities, with those in central and western regions where competition was less fierce generally more content.

Professor Hu Ping , from Renmin University’s psychology department, which conducted the survey, said the government should pay more attention to the well-being of migrant workers.

“Not just their basic living requirements and food but also their social needs such as being recognised, accepted and respected by society,” Hu said. “Their needs to participate in social life should also be met.”

Compared with a similar survey last year, migrant workers’ living standards had improved but their sense of happiness from social involvement and social standing had dipped.

Wang Junxiu , a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Science, said the survey showed that the sense of happiness of migrant workers was not entirely based on how much money they made but also how they felt about the future.

“The core of urbanisation is how to make these migrant workers urban residents and from the survey we see the migrant workers are not … wanting different levels of needs one by one,” Wang said. “Instead, they need to fulfil their needs at the same time and the government should do more to make them integrate into society.”

Hu said the government should be alert to the class awareness of migrant workers and work out strategies to effectively resolve conflicts among different social strata to avoid conflict.

Professor Ye Yumin , from Renmin University’s school of public administration and policy, said urbanisation should mean not only that people could move from place to place but also allow them to move up the social ladder. “Otherwise it is not successful,” she said.

Ye said it was the government’s job to create a fair channel for migrant workers to move up and the most effective way was through education.

via Migrant workers feel like outsiders in mainland cities, says survey | South China Morning Post.

04/02/2013

* China to help migrant workers in urbanization

China Daily: “Chinese authorities on Thursday underlined the need to help rural migrant workers become urban residents, calling it an important task for the country’s urbanization, according to its first policy document for 2013.

To promote urbanization, especially concerning migrant workers, China will put forward reforms of its household registration system, loosening requirements for obtaining residency permits in small and medium-sized cities and small townships, the document said.

The country also vowed more efforts in providing professional training for migrant workers, ensuring their social security and protecting their rights and interests, according to the document.

Migrant workers should enjoy equal rights and benefits in payments, education of their children, public health, housing and cultural services, the document said. It added that authorities will work to extend basic public services to all permanent residents in cities.

The central government also urged more serious attention be given to the left-behind population, namely children, women and old people in rural areas after their family members go to work in cities.

Local authorities at all levels as well as the public should guarantee the rights and safety of the left-behind population with support, help and care, said the document.

The first policy document, issued by the central committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council every year, is dubbed the No 1 central document. This is the 10th consecutive year in which the document has focused on rural issues.

Chinese official data showed that the country’s migrant worker population amounted to 253 million by the end of 2011, among which 159 million were working away from their homes.”

via China to help migrant workers in urbanization |Economy |chinadaily.com.cn.

See also: https://chindia-alert.org/2012/12/17/testing-time-for-chinas-migrants-as-they-demand-access-to-education/

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