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Govt report: China’s urbanization level reached 56.1%

China’s urbanization level has reached 56.1 percent, that’s according to the first official urbanization report book compiled by the National Development and Reform Commission. The country also plans for more small and medium sized cities along with a human-centered urbanization path.

China has 653 cities now, compared to 193 in 1978. The top economic planning body says that number could be increased.

“Even Japan has over 1000 cities. We have over 200 counties and towns that can be converted to medium and small cities. We’ll speed up setting the standards to support that this year,” Xu Lin, director of Planning Dept., NDRC, said.

China’s fast urbanization has left many problems. One of them is that many new buildings have been in disuse, leading to what’s called “ghost cities”.

Since 2014, the central government began to advance a new path that’s human-centered and environmentally friendly.

China aims to make 60 percent of its population living in cities by 2020. The priority now is to help migrant rural workers enjoy equal public services as other urbanites.

The country counted 277 million migrant rural workers last year. Without a household registration permit, called a Hukou, in the city they work in, they are denied access to many social benefits.

And many have left their aging parents and children in their rural home.

Speeding up a reform on that, is topping this year’s priorities.

“We’re improving migrant rural workers’ citizenship. We’ll enable them to take their family to cities, and get access to the same medical care and education as locals,” Xu said.

The National Development and Reform Commission says from this year on, a book will be published every year, to tell the public about all the progress and problems in the country’s urbanization process.