Urbanization is speeding up
throughout China, with half the 1.3 billion Chinese expected to live in
cities in 2010.
Every year, about 13 million rural people flood into China's cities,
equivalent to the current population of Beijing, Vice-Minister of
Construction Qiu Baoxing told the Fudan University International Urban
Forum over the weekend.
To accommodate this new urban population, the country needs a huge
amount of resources, currently accounting for 40 per cent of the world's
total annual cement consumption and 30 per cent of the annual steel
In addition, current construction projects account for around 30 per
cent of the global total, said the vice-minister. He estimated that it
would be another 30 years before the initial phase of China's urbanization
"Besides resource consumption, urbanization brings a lot of problems
such as the widening wealth gap between urban and rural areas,
environmental damage, the lack of social security for migrant workers and
heavy pressure on transport networks," said Shan Wenhui, director of the
Centre for Urban Studies at Fudan University.
Shi Nan, secretary-general of the Urban Planning Society of China,
pointed out that it would be possible for the country to accommodate 50
per cent of its population in cities in 2010, since currently about 40 per
cent of the population already lived in urban areas.
He said the government needed to seek solutions for swelling urban
populations and shrinking resources.
Currently, three densely urbanized regions have formed along China's
coast the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta and the
New urban systems are also taking shape in the country's smaller cities
and towns, due to economic development and the absorption of surplus rural
Economic growth is the force driving this rapid urbanization. But other
factors also attract farmers to the cities, Qiu explained, pointing to the
development of transport networks and educational opportunities.