Stimulating its own internal economy is as vital as maintaining an external status quo of peaceful conditions for China’s growth models. This article from Taiwan’s Commonwealth Magazine highlights the ‘severe stratification of its urban population‘ – the creation of additional stratas will compound the many already-existing divides within Chinese society – ethnicity, dialect group, geographic hometown, just to name a few.
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China’s Economic Transition
Urbanization Gone Awry
By Sherry Lee
Source – Commonweath Magazine (online), published May 27, 2010 (No. 447)
Even though the Chinese economy posted 11.9-percent growth in the first quarter of 2010, nerves are raw in Zhongnanhai – China’s governmental headquarters in Beijing. As the rest of the world seems to sink into economic quicksand with no end to the global crisis in sight, Chinese leaders scramble to stimulate domestic demand by pushing for the urbanization of rural China.
Things have changed in China’s fourth-, fifth- and sixth-tier municipalities. The women in these small towns and villages might still make a living working in the fields, but they don’t look like field workers anymore. The typical small-town woman wears jewelry, high heels and make-up, and occasionally stops in at the beauty shop in town to buy some skin-care products. Young male migrant workers use their spare time to surf the Internet in their cramped dormitory rooms. They play online games and order the latest consumer electronics from the big cities online. The rural population already accounts for one quarter of China’s Internet users, exceeding 100 million people.
Fueled by China’s “reform and opening-up” policy, the urban sprawl that began in the cities and towns on the affluent east coast has been constantly expanding further inland. Some 300 million farmers have moved to urban areas, and as a result the number of Chinese cities has exploded from 86 sixty years ago to 665 today. Read the rest of this entry »