Fund­ing, mar­ket key in push for ur­ban­iza­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By ZHAO YI­NAN in Sanya, Hainan zhaoy­i­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

As ur­ban­iza­tion in­creases in China, the role of the mar­ket and the avail­abil­ity of funds to pay for the changes are vi­tal, of­fi­cials and ex­perts said.

Even as new- type ur­ban­iza­tion has be­come the lat­est catch­phrase in China, a lot of de­tailed and dif­fi­cult work still needs to be done, said Li Tie, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the China Center for Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment at the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion.

The is­sue can be dis­tilled to two ques­tions: “What is the prime con­cept in China’s new­type ur­ban­iza­tion?” and “How can this con­cept be car­ried out, given the flow of mil­lions of farm­ers into cities?”

Li said at the Sanya Fo­rum on Sun­day that the first ques­tion was an­swered at the Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee ur­ban­iza­tion meet­ing, which con­cluded on Satur­day in Bei­jing.

The closed-door con­fer­ence clar­i­fied that China’s ur­ban­iza­tion must fo­cus on qual­ity de­vel­op­ment with no fo­cus on im­me­di­ate re­sults. But the two­day meet­ing failed to pro­vide a road map for do­ing so, he said.

Ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased af­ter the cen­tral ur­ban­iza­tion work con­fer­ence, ur­ban­iza­tion is the road that China must take in its mod­ern­iza­tion drive, and it of­fers an im­por­tant way to ad­dress ru­ral prob­lems.

“One prin­ci­ple of ur­ban­iza­tion is re­spect­ing the rules of the mar­ket and avoid­ing ar­bi­trary de­ci­sions made by lo­cal gov­ern­ments. The gov­ern­ment should go back to its orig­i­nal role of su­per­vi­sion,” he said.

The widely ex­pected de­vel­op­ment plan for the coun­try’s medium- and long-term ur­ban­iza­tion, which is ex­pected to of­fer guid­ance on how to turn the con­cept into re­al­ity, is be­ing re­vised to in­cor­po­rate ad­vice from the ur­ban­iza­tion meet­ing, the state­ment said.

China’s ur­ban­iza­tion level is 52.6 per­cent in terms of per­ma­nent ur­ban res­i­dents, com­pared with 80 per­cent in Western coun­tries.

How­ever, only one-third of the Chi­nese pop­u­la­tion pos­sesses a city hukou, which qual­i­fies a res­i­dent for bet­ter so­cial wel­fare ser­vices than a ru­ral hukou does.

About 250 mil­lion for­mer farm­ers who are now mi­grant work­ers have moved to cities, leav­ing par­ents and chil­dren in ru­ral ar­eas, with the ex­pec­ta­tion of be­ing rec­og­nized as an ur­ban res­i­dent. As ur­ban­iza­tion is un­veiled on a larger scale and land re­forms are rolled out, more farm­ers are ex­pected to move into cities.

Al­though the State Coun­cil said last year that a hukou sys­tem re­form will be launched, it has not yet re­leased any de­tails.

But Satur­day’s state­ment of ur­ban­iza­tion did set out a ba­sic prin­ci­ple for the re­form. It prom­ises to fully re­move hukou re­stric­tions in towns and small cities, grad­u­ally ease the re­stric­tions in mid­size cities, set rea­son­able con­di­tions for set­tling in large cities, while strictly con­trol­ling the pop­u­la­tion in megac­i­ties.

As the cur­tain of new-type ur­ban­iza­tion is about to open, Wang Jian­lin, pres­i­dent of Dalian Wanda Group Corp Ltd, said it is cru­cial to first fig­ure out how the ur­ban so­ci­ety can ab­sorb the mil­lions of for­mer farm­ers, in­clud­ing pro­vid­ing them job op­por­tu­ni­ties, wel­fare, ed­u­ca­tion and pub­lic ser­vices.

“In other words, it is a mat­ter of how the so­ci­ety could find enough and sus­tain­able money to do this,” he said, “If the gov­ern­ment can­not solve this prob­lem, new-type ur­ban­iza­tion will only be an empty con­cept.”

Hong Qi, pres­i­dent of China Min­sheng Bank­ing Corp, said the cen­tral and western pro­vin­cial ar­eas, where the drive for eco­nomic growth were not as strong as east­ern cities but the ur­ban­iza­tion will mostly take place, have to find their own way to raise money.

“Is­su­ing gov­ern­ment bonds to spon­sor qual­ity en­ter­prises and en­cour­ag­ing so­cial in­vest­ment in in­dus­tries with lo­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics, such as the tea in­dus­try and tourism, can all boost lo­cal eco­nomic mo­men­tum,” he said.

SHEN ZHICHENG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A farmer car­ries sweet po­tato leaves out of a hole in a wall in Tongx­i­ang, Zhejiang prov­ince, last month. The farm­ers’ land in­side the wall will be used for com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment. China is step­ping up ur­ban­iza­tion to de­velop the econ­omy.

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