China urban tide to grow by 100 million in 10 years

Reuters News
|
Posted: Oct 09, 2011 10:43 PM

BEIJING (Reuters) - More than 100 million rural Chinese people will settle in towns and cities in the next decade, testing provision of welfare and services as a new generation of migrants turn their backs on farming, according to a new government report.

The National Population and Family Planning Commission report forecast that by 2020, China's urban population would pass 800 million, and many of the new residents are rural migrants who lack old-age and medical insurance in the towns and cities they want to call home, media reports said on Monday.

The study, based on survey data from 2010, is the latest to underscore how important, and how challenging, the ramifications of China's tide of urbanisation are.

"Our country still faces many challenges in achieving healthy urbanisation," said the report, according to a summary from the Xinhua news agency.

"At present, we still have not formed a sensible array of cities and towns, and overall urban capacity urgently needs to be strengthened," it said.

"The migrant population strongly desires to be absorbed into the areas where they live, but there is a stark conflict between supply and demand of urban public services."

China's census last year found the country had 1.34 billion people, and 670 million were residents of towns and cities.

Many new urbanites are young rural migrants with no plans to return to villages and farming after years in factories and on building sites, unlike their parents' generation.

Although their wages have risen in recent years, this "new generation" of migrants also needs better housing, healthcare and schooling opportunities. The report found 52 percent of Chinese rural migrants had no social welfare insurance.

In June, migrant workers rioted in far southern China's manufacturing belt, trashing government offices and police vehicles after a pregnant peddler was roughed up by guards, triggering anger about mistreatment.

A string of strikes at Japanese-owned vehicle parts makers last year also showed the growing assertiveness of younger Chinese workers.

China has about 153 million migrant workers living outside their home towns, and by 2009, 58.4 percent of them were "new generation" migrants born in 1980 or after, according to an earlier National Bureau of Statistics survey.

The latest report found that 76.3 percent of this "new generation" of migrants had no plans to return to the areas they came from, and most of those that did have plans to return wanted to find jobs in towns, not return to farming.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Nick Macfie)