Huang Wenqing grew up in a remote village in China’s Anhui province, where his family were pig farmers. Today he is a team manager in a car components factory in the suburbs of Beijing. Huang, 32, is part of a huge wave of rural workers streaming into China’s cities in search of better opportunities.
People like him have been driving the country’s fast urbanization, a process which will see six out of every 10 Chinese people living in cities in 20 years, according to a top development planning official.
That means the nation will have around 900 million urban dwellers by 2030.
The Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Construction said that around 600 million people – 45 percent of the population – were urban dwellers by the end of 2007.
“The ratio has more than doubled from 21 percent in 1982, and the country remains on the fast track of urbanization,” Zhang Qin, deputy director of the ministry’s Urban and Rural Planning Department, said at a news conference.
She said that China will maintain its rapid pace of urbanization over the next two decades. However, due to its large population, the nation could never match the urbanization level of 90 percent attained by some developed countries.
“Experts put China’s maximum urbanization level at 60 to 70 percent, and that is a quite reasonable estimate,” Zhang said.
Zhang said the rapid rate of urbanization has been putting great pressure on housing and public services in cities.
Officials from the ministry pledged to remove the obstacles facing migrant workers in cities, particularly with regard to employment, their children’s education and access to social security.