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China's urban population boom: too big too fast?

More than 100 million people are expected to migrate from China's countryside into its cities by 2020, posing major challenges for city planners.
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Written by Tyler Falk on

It's no surprise that the country with the world's largest population also has some of the world's largest cities. And those cities are going to get even bigger.

More than 100 million people are expected to migrate from China's countryside into its cities by 2020, while urbanization will soar to 800 million compared with 666 million in 2010. But the report from the National Population and Family Planning Commission of China says that it's too much too fast for Chinese cities. AFP reports:

China's rapid urbanisation is already creating social problems, with migrant workers often treated as second-class citizens, and the National Population and Family Planning Commission report called for "equal public services" for all.

Despite living in cities, migrant workers are still registered as rural residents. As such, they have little or no social security and are charged huge fees to send their children to public schools, forcing some to forgo education.

It's a common theme in the world's cities: rural workers moving to urban hubs in search of financial stability. But with the oncoming flood of people into urban areas, cities will need to figure out the most effective ways of transforming slums while accommodating more people in bustling city centers.

Bloomberg reports that China is trying to meet demand by building 5 billion square meters of road, adding up to 170 mass transit systems and 40 billion square meters of floor space. China will eventually have 221 cities with more than 1 million residents, and eight megacities -- meaning the population is over 10 million.

But while China seems to be building shiny new infrastructure all the time, the challenge will to be build the "harmonious cities" that Chinese leaders envision, while avoiding the "biggest property bubble of all time."

Photo: Jaako/Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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