China plans to spend over 1 trillion yuan (around £162 billion) on the development in shanty towns. The idea is that improvement in housing will help boost the urban population. As a large population is thought to be a ‘strong engine’ for sustainable economic growth. In an attempt to support this, China is now focused much more on encouraging domestic consumption which is more prevalent in the cities then in urban areas. The target is to have 60% of the population in urban areas by 2020.
Development of shanty towns in Liaonging province began early 2005. The communities involved in these projects were all relocated and then resettled in the space of two years. The rebuilding involved 706,000 residents, however it solved housing issues for around 2,110,000 residents. The satisfaction levels on features such as the improved housing conditions, supporting facilities and mental attitudes were very high. The new apartments were often up to four times bigger than the bungalows that had occupied the space previously. A new sense of community feeling was also accredited to the developments. Transport links were improved alongside services such as super markets and schools.
The renewal of the shanty town areas is also said to have boosted resident’s self-confidence and personal relationships. Conversations between shanty town residents were previously quite negative, about leaking roofs and other problems. Whereas now residents are proud of their homes and encourage friends to come round and visit. These new developments can also have an environmental benefit, shanty town residents often burned coal for cooking and heating, but the new housing means they no longer have to do this.
However this has by no means been a completely successful project. There have been problems of residents not wanting to be moved so far away and being dissatisfied with compensation. To try and prevent this dispute, Bejjing Municipal Government stated that a renovation would only be launched with the consent of 90% of the involved residents. Another issue is improper management of shanty rebuilding. 6,623 renovated houses in Lanzhou were illegally sold to buyers rather than the low income wage earners for which they were intended for. There has also been issues of embezzlement of funds.