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Rural voice should be heard on urbanization: expert | Updated: 2013-03-18 19:53

Local governments should respect rural residents' freedom of choice when promoting urbanization, according to a national think tank scholar.

"Media and local governments should not equate some misconduct by local governments with the central government's policy," said Li Tie, head of the China Centre for Urban Development, a think tank under the National Development and Reform Commission.

The commission is the main ministry behind the drafting of China's first comprehensive urbanization outline.

Li was speaking on Monday at a news conference held to announce the 2013 China International Urbanization Forum will be staged on March 30 and 31 in Shanghai.

The forum is co-hosted by the China Centre for Urban Development, the World Economic Forum and World Bank.

Li made the comment in response to doubts that some local governments might use the concept of “new urbanization” to seize rural residents' land and turn the campaign into another property construction spree.

In Henan province, for example, some local officials had forcibly removed farmers' graves in an effort to grab land for real estate development.

The central government has repeatedly said recently that urbanization should be a natural outcome of modernization, rather than a compulsory movement.

Li also said China's hukou, or household registration system, should not be abandoned in the short term. He said a viable solution is to allow those who have worked and lived in cities for many years and intend to stay there to gradually acquire hukou.

Premier Li Keqiang stressed at a news conference on Sunday that urbanization should be a free choice for farmers.

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