SHANGHAI Dec 27 China's urbanization rate is
expected to hit 60 percent by 2018, according to a prominent
government think tank report, two years ahead of previous
official expectations, bringing a potential economic boost to
the world's second largest economy.
China's urban population has boomed over the last three
decades, with over half of all Chinese living in cities for the
first time in 2012. Around 54 percent of the population lives in
cities now, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences'
blue book report, the official Xinhua said on Friday.
China's leaders are pushing for a larger number of the
country's near 1.4 billion population to live in cities, a drive
to boost economic output and reignite growth that slowed to a
13-year low of 7.8 percent in 2012.
But authorities also face the challenge of regulating one of
the largest migrations in human history, with steep financial
and political costs to facilitate the 25 million people a year
who are expected to move to cities.
Resettling China's rural workers into city life could cost
around 650 billion yuan ($107 billion) a year, a Chinese think
tank said in July, the equivalent of 5.5 percent of fiscal
revenue in 2012.
The leadership is also struggling to balance goals such as
encouraging the migration of millions of former farmers into
cities, while avoiding the slums and unemployment problems that
have occurred in other countries experiencing similar migration.
China also needs to drive through social welfare reforms to
remove obstacles for urbanization. Millions of migrant workers
in China's big cities lack access to education, health and other
services tied to the country's strict household registration, or
In the past 30 years, China's urban population has jumped to
more than 700 million from less than 200 million, a dramatic
shift that has sometimes triggered violent clashes over land
use, as well as water shortages, pollution and other problems.
($1 = 6.0746 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Anand Basu)