China’s new urbanisation
First published in Advance, the Crawford School of Public Policy's magazine, in April 2015. By ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR CHUNLAI CHEN and BILIANG HU.
The sheer scale and size of China's population means that country-wide public policy and plans often affect many millions of people.
The Chinese Government's new urbanisation program, which aims to radically improve the lives of more than 100 million people, is a nation-building project to rival that of the Great Wall.
Launched in March 2014, the program aims to drive China's social and economic development through focusing on integrated urban and rural development, creating city clusters to spread the benefits of urbanisation, and promoting sustainable urban development.
While admirable in its ambition and scope, the new program may also bring some new social and economic problems.
A key challenge for China's policymakers is that they are problems that are best addressed by greater use of market forces to promote change.
The primary focus of the program is to promote integrated urban and rural development.
By 2020, around 100 million out of China's 270 million rural migrants will be granted urban household registration status and settled down in the cities and towns where they have worked and lived for many years.
For the remaining 170 million rural migrants, although their urban household registration status cannot be granted, they will receive basic medical and healthcare, a basic pension and other basic services.
However, China will still have more than 500 million people living in rural areas.
A fundamental challenge will be to reduce the differences in income and social security and to promote balanced and coordinated urban and rural development.
In this sense, the new urbanisation program is different from previous ones as it includes aspects of urban development and also has a set of policies to promote agriculture and rural development.