Why Some Say China Isn't Urbanizing Fast Enough

Though China's cities have been growing exponentially, some argue it isn't urbanizing fast enough. Fearing Latin American-style slums, leaders have restricted migration. They're now being urged to ease controls to maximize agglomeration effects.
May 9, 2013, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Though China's leaders have long sought to limit urban migration out of a fear of creating slums or "spurring centers of political opposition", according to "urbanization specialists" inside and outside outside of the country, "[t]he problem with Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese megacities...is that they aren't even more densely packed—or better planned," writes Bob Davis.

"China's government hasn't bought into the bigger-is-better argument so far, but it is listening to new ideas. The country's new premier, Li Keqiang, who has made urbanization a focus of China's economic reform plans, said the government had received 500 proposals on the subject at a March meeting of the largely ceremonial parliament."

"'We have to let the market play a bigger role in the development of cities and dismantle barriers' to urban growth, said He Fan, a senior economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the government's most prestigious think tank. 'People prefer to move to larger cities because there is more opportunity there.'"

"Yukon Huang, a former China director for the World Bank, estimates that if such restrictions were eliminated, about 60% of China's population would now live in cities, rather than the current 52.6%."

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Published on Thursday, May 9, 2013 in The Wall Street Journal
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