China's Rural-To-Urban Migration

<p>In southwest China, one municipality is trying to usher in a new modern age by encouraging rural residents to move into urban areas. The flood may create one of the most populous cities in the world, but many rural migrants are hesitant to move.</p>
July 29, 2007, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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"According to official figures, about 45% of Chongqing's people live in urban areas (nearly half in the would-be-Manhattan of Chongqing proper). But Chongqing's leaders, determined to make their vast municipality an oasis of modernity in China's backward west, say that by 2020 the municipality must be 70% 'urbanised'."

"Statistics like these make China's property developers drool. The municipality's official population is more than 30m, which if it were a single city would make it one of the largest in the world. To achieve the 2020 target, country-dwellers must move into urban areas at a rate of more than 500,000 a year. Large numbers of farmers will also seek their fortunes in other parts of China. Thanks to the lure of the wealthy coast, many have already done so. Chongqing's resident population - official population minus migrants to other provinces - fell by 500,000 between 2000 and 2005. But around half of those who migrate to urban areas remain in Chongqing municipality."

"Much of China's migration to the cities is therefore temporary - many city dwellers will one day return to their farms-and some scholars reckon Chongqing's real urbanisation rate is far lower than the official figures suggest."

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Published on Friday, July 27, 2007 in The Economist
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