Washington: China is planning to move 250 million rural residents into newly constructed towns and cities over the next dozen years.
The government is replacing small rural homes with high-rises, which will pave over vast swaths of farmland and drastically change the lives of rural dwellers.The project is so large that the number of brand-new Chinese city dwellers will approach the total urban population of the United States.
According to the New York Times, the shift is occurring so quickly, and the potential costs are so high, that some fear rural China is once again the site of radical social engineering.
Over the past decades, the Communist Party has flip-flopped on peasants` rights to use land: giving small plots to farm during 1950s land reform, collectivizing a few years later, restoring rights at the start of the reform era and now trying to obliterate small landholders, the report said.
New urban schools and hospitals offer modern services, but often at the expense of the torn-down temples and open-air theaters of the countryside.
China under the plan will be spending on new roads, hospitals, schools, community centers, which could cost more than 600 billion dollars a year, according to economists` estimates.
According to the report, the primary motivation for the urbanization push is to change China`s economic structure, with growth based on domestic demand for products instead of relying so much on export.