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Urbanization means better rural areas, too
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-10-22 08:48

China is undergoing unprecedented urbanization, which has sharpened social contradictions. To make the country's urbanization sustainable, we have to develop modern agriculture, says an article in Changjiang Times. Excerpts:

The latest McKinsey & Company study shows about 1 billion people will be living in the country's urban areas by 2025, and more than 200 cities will have a population of 1 million or more.

Urbanization, in essence, is the expansion of urban areas resulting from the migration of the agricultural population. Yet the process is more complex than that.

The increasing expansion of big cities has sharpened social contradictions by widening people's interests, which are related to money and power. Today's China fits this model well.

On one hand, excessive supply of labor has left big cities staring at the ghosts of unemployment, expensive housing and environmental degradation. On the other hand, more and more farmers are being deprived of their land with neither enough jobs nor effective social security to cover their loss. How long can this urbanization trend continue?

Some European countries have set us good examples by developing modern agriculture. The Netherlands, for instance, has completed its urbanization process, but it still has a highly developed agriculture sector. Its industrial chain comprises agriculture, research, exports, transportation and education, connecting city jobs with farm work. Without the combination and supplementary nature of its industry, neither its cities nor rural areas would have achieved sustainable development.

Hence, urbanization means far more than simply the physical growth of urban areas. It includes the development of rural areas as well as its extension to cities.

(China Daily 10/22/2009 page9)