Saturday, June 15, 2013

China's rural-to-urban migration accelerates, with a significant government push

The New York Times kicks off a series today titled, "China's Great Uprooting:  Moving 250 Million into Cities ."  One subhead is "Leaving the Land," and one promotional blurb follows:
Articles in this series look at how China's government-driven effort to push the population to towns and cities is reshaping a nation that for millenniums has been defined by its rural life.
And here's the lede:
China is pushing ahead with a sweeping plan to move 250 million rural residents into newly constructed towns and cities over the next dozen years — a transformative event that could set off a new wave of growth or saddle the country with problems for generations to come. 
The government, often by fiat, is replacing small rural homes with high-rises, paving over vast swaths of farmland and drastically altering the lives of rural dwellers.
Ian Johnson reports that the goal is to have 70% of the China's population--900 million people--living  in cities by 2025; currently, 50% live in cities.  The scale of the plan is so great that the number of new city dwellers in China will approach the total urban population of the United States.  Johnson articulates the fear that rural China is once again the site of social engineering, writing:
Across China, bulldozers are leveling villages that date to long-ago dynasties. Towers now sprout skyward from dusty plains and verdant hillsides.
Johnson quotes Tian Wei, a 43-year-old former wheat farmer in Hebei province.  Wei now works at a factory, as a night watchman:
It’s a new world for us in the city.  All my life I’ve worked with my hands in the fields; do I have the educational level to keep us with the city people?
The story features a number of other rich quotes from former farmers, whose pensions the Chinese government is financing as part of this shift.  

Johnson also puts this phenomenon in historical perspective, noting the sharp turn in Communist Party policy, which for decades insisted that "most peasants, even those working in cities, remain tied to their tiny plots of land to ensure political and economic stability." He notes that in the past several decades, the 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."

Indeed, one of the fascinating things about this story is that recent stories out of China indicate that the government has continued to persecute those who make unauthorized rural-to-urban migrations.   Read more here.   Posts here and here highlight the problems associated with rural poverty in China.  Here's a post about unrest in rural China, and here's one from a few years ago about the challenges of urbanizing China.

1 comment:

Surelia Dev said...

Live on a Country farm in a safe, unspoiled country environment and enjoy Farm Fresh dairy, fruit and vegetables produced on site.
Lands in Hyderabad
Land in Hyderabad
Buy Property in Hyderabad
Lands Sales in Hyderabad
Land Sale in Hyderabad