China’s Urbanisation

13 Feb

Economic reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping in the 1970s such as ending collective farming and a rise in foreign investment has led to rapid economic progress transforming the cities and coastal areas within China. In 2011 the urban population overtook the numbers of rural residence within China. With the rapid growth of 467 cities between 1978 to 2012 and the merging of at least 80 cities due to the geographical spreading of the urban population. Urbanisation is now considered as China’s route towards modernization suggesting that city life has lifted people out of poverty, improved the living standards and increased the domestic consumption of the population resulting in a boost to the economy. China displays aims to continue this growth displaying intentions to reform the ‘Hukou Residency System’ allowing rural migrant workers access to healthcare and education in the cities

However, the urbanisation and the rise in living standards among some Chinese residents can be seen to contrast greatly with the situations of those living in rural regions. With the second highest GDP in the world China displays a vast divide between the rich and poor with almost 12% living on less than $1.25 a day. The uneven distribution of wealth within China is suggested to be separated by the rural and urban divide with statistics suggesting the ratio of urban to rural income is 3:1. Ideas of overcoming the poverty stricken rural areas of China are displayed by Premier Li Keqiang to be through further urbanisation, however the benefits of this can also be questioned.

Although urbanisation within China has displayed positive benefits to the economic situation of its residence, problematic issues that may arise from the rapid urbanisation within the country must also be highlighted. While the rural population within China is displayed as the least to benefit from China’s economic growth, financial inequality can also be displayed within China’s cities, with many neglected urban regions. The increased energy consumption associated with urbanisation can also be demonstrated as an issue, with increase in pollution and harmful emissions displayed by the smog clouds that often encompass the city regions. A final threat of lacking food and housing can be demonstrated as all the agricultural workers relocate to city based homes and jobs. Therefore displaying that although urbanisation has been seen as a benefit to China’s economy rural areas are also important to maintaining the living standards of the overall populations, consequently poverty within rural areas must be negotiated in other ways.

Junor, S. (2014) ‘Urbanization and China’s future’, The London Economic, 11 February [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 13 February 2014).

BBC News (2006) ‘Quick guide to China’s economic reform’, 3 November [Online] Available at: (Accessed: 13 February 2014).


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