How Will the Government Manage China's Great Urban Leap?

Ian Johnson explores a pivotal moment in China's development, as the country seeks to migrate 250 million rural residents to cities in the next 12 years. Observers speculate on how a comprehensive urbanization plan will achieve this transition.
June 17, 2013, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"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," writes Johnson. 

"This will decisively change the character of China, where the Communist Party insisted for decades that most peasants, even those working in cities, remain tied to their tiny plots of land to ensure political and economic stability. Now, the party has shifted priorities, mainly to find a new source of growth for a slowing economy that depends increasingly on a consuming class of city dwellers."

"Across China, bulldozers are leveling villages that date to long-ago dynasties. Towers now sprout skyward from dusty plains and verdant hillsides. New urban schools and hospitals offer modern services, but often at the expense of the torn-down temples and open-air theaters of the countryside," he explains. "Instead of creating wealth, urbanization could result in a permanent underclass in big Chinese cities and the destruction of a rural culture and religion."

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Published on Saturday, June 15, 2013 in The New York Times
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