China's Ambitious Plan to Move 100 Million People From Farms to Cities

This week, Chinese authorities published the results of a long-delayed blueprint for how it will grow its cities—and its economy—by 2020. The plan is sweeping, ambitious, and dense, and it gives us a glimpse of China's future.

The crux of the plan? Move 100 million people—mainly, rural farmers—into cities by 2020. To accommodate them, China will start a massive push to develop better public infrastructure, from hospitals to schools to railways. According to the study's authors, the whole idea is to bolster the flagging economy with an influx of new workers, new housing, new infrastructure, and new factories.

The report is 30 chapters long, but a few highlights:

  • By 2020, 60 percent of cities will meet China's national pollution standards. [Reuters]
  • Every city of more than 200,000 people will have a railway connection. [WSJ]
  • $163 billion will be spent to improve the slum-like conditions of migrant workers. [Bloomberg]
  • The industrial development will be focused in the west, away from China's already developed eastern edge. [SCMP]
  • Right now, less than 40 percent of urban citizens are "registered" under China's Hukou system, meaning that the other 60 percent don't have access to public services, including public schools. The new plan will increase the percentage of registered citizens to 45 percent—or 100 million new registered city dwellers. [QZ]

How realistic are these goals? It's hard to say—but urbanization is already happening at a rapid pace. We'll just have to wait and see whether the government can deliver on its promises. You can check out the details of the plan over on Xinhaunet or The New York Times.

Lead image: Lam Yik Fei/Stringer.