The central government has chosen 62 locations across the country as experimental areas for new-style urbanization, pushing forward the grand strategy that Premier Li Keqiang said will greatly stimulate China’s economy.
The 62 areas range from provincial and city levels to county and town levels, although the focus will be on medium-sized and small cities and small towns, Li said on Sept 16 during a seminar in Beijing organized by the central government.
“The new-style urbanization is a big strategy for modernization and will improve the lives of several hundred million people,” Li said. “It is our biggest structural adjustment.”
Li said on March 5, when delivering the Report on the Work of the Government, that in the next phase, the country should grant urban residency to 100 million people who have moved to cities from rural areas, renovate slum areas that include about 100 million residents and guide about 100 million rural residents in central and western areas of the country to urbanize in nearby cities.
He said on Sept 16 that the new-style urbanization, which is environmentally friendly and puts people first, will help solve many problems in China.
For instance, it can break the dual structure of urban and rural areas, tap the potential of domestic demand and counteract the downward pressure on the economy, he said.
Li laid special emphasis on the spirit of innovation, adding that the experimental areas should follow the overall plan of the central government, but local governments will play a dominant role in the process and fully respect local conditions.
During the seminar, Li listened to reports from central government departments and local governments of several levels, including that of a town in Shandong province. He frequently discussed details with the local officials and asked them what they expected from the central government.
He also encouraged local governments that are not included in the list of 62 to be “active” in pushing forward urbanization.
Yang Yiyong, director of the Research Institute for Social Development under the National Development and Reform Commission, said the selection of 62 sites means that, on average, there will be two places in every province for the pilot program to be carried out.
“This helps the country to find out the most suitable pattern to push forward urbanization,” Yang said.
Because the migration of rural residents to cities costs a lot, Yang said the country has to figure out reasonable expenses for cities, rural areas and the migrants themselves.
“The urbanization drive will certainly contribute to economic growth,” Yang said. “However, there is a long way to go for China to realize the migration of such a large population.”
Li also said on Sept 16 that the pilot program will focus on some key issues such as the building of mechanisms to share the costs of migration of rural residents and introducing diversified investment.
Mo Jingxi and Wang Qingyun contributed to this story.