Urban Fold

In China's Model New Town Urbanization Equals Ghettoization

Outside of Tianjin, in northern China, a model new town has become a symbol of something less exemplary - the country's struggles with urbanization. Broken promises and scant opportunities are creating trying conditions for former farmers.

"In 2005, Huaming Township was chosen to be a demonstration for successful, planned urbanization," writes Ian Johnson. But broken promises, shoddy construction, and a lack of opportunities have led to social dysfunction and a rash of suicides for uprooted farmers.   

"As China pushes ahead with government-led urbanization, a program expected to be endorsed at a Communist Party Central Committee meeting that began Saturday, many worry that the scores of new housing developments here may face the same plight as postwar housing projects in Western countries. Meant to solve one problem, they may be creating a new set of troubles that could plague Chinese cities for generations," explains Johnson.

“'We’re talking hundreds of millions of people who are moving into these places, but the standard of living for these relocatees has actually dropped,' said Lynette Ong, a University of Toronto political scientist who has studied the resettlement areas. 'On top of that is the quality of the buildings — there was a lot of corruption, and they skimped on materials.'”

Full Story: New China Cities: Shoddy Homes, Broken Hope

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