Large urban population to be a big problem in China

Updated: 2011-10-10 15:04

By Zhao Chenyan (

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"People are looking much happier and the cities are seen to have great improvement in China," University of Virginia foreign affairs professor and recent recipient of China's Friendship Award Brantly Womack said, during an interview several days ago.

Professor Womack said that every Chinese city works in different ways and it's very interesting to observe these differences. He also believes that visiting China is important for foreigners to understand China, no matter how much outside information there is.

Womack thinks that one of the biggest problems in the development of Chinese cities during the 12th five-year-plan period will be the ever-growing urban population and shrinking rural population, saying that is is not just the big cities, but the little cities too who will have to cope with new arrivals.

He also thinks that China needs a new Hukou system, saying that the present Hukou is designed for a society where people stay in the same place for long periods of time, but that the Chinese population is not staying in the same place any more, so considering how to manage this population is very important. He said that Vietnam's abolition of the Hukou system in 1972 and allowing movement within the country is a policy that China may consider.

Housing, especially housing prices and schooling for migrant workers' children are also serious problems and challenges, according to Womack, but he is confident that China sees the problems and will be able to deal with them.

Brantly Womack is a foreign affairs professor, and has been awarded the status of honorary professor at many Chinese universities. He has been to China many times since 1978 and has authored several books and more than 100 articles and chapters on Asian politics, most of which have been translated into Chinese.