Can China sustain transformation?
China’s development model based on rapid urbanisation powered by strong industrial support has made the country the world’s second largest economy. While its economic forecasts show further prosperity, lifestyle in China is undergoing a fast transformation.
Millions are migrating to cities from villages and the size of cities is growing massively and pumping huge earning to the national exchequer. This is certainly something that Bangladesh should closely watch for its own benefit.
According to government officials, on an average, 80 villages are disappearing every day out of a few hundred thousands because of the migration and also because of assimilation of the villages into the cities.
And there is no stopping since it is the government policy that the rate of urbanisation should hit 70 per cent by 2030 from 51 per cent now. The present rate, the Chinese government believes, is too low.
“You can see that young men are no longer willing to live in the villages. They are coming to the cities and the villages are increasingly being populated by women, children and old people,” said Fan Jida, specialist on reforms and economics of the China National School of Administration.
If rural outflow continues, will it not harm agriculture and thus jeopardise food security?
According to Fan Jida, this question is currently being debated at academic level. “If every Chinese ate one more egg, the entire Brazil could not produce that much. Therefore, we attach high importance to food security,” he said.
“China cannot afford a mistake in the area of food security. But we forecast that even if we attain 70 per cent urbanisation rate two decades later, we will still have 400 million people living in rural areas due to population growth,” he added.“And then if the population declines further, China will turn to a centralised agriculture production. Then one household may have several
hundred hectares of land for better production,” Jida noted.
According to Tan Weiping, director general of the State Council Leading Group Office for Poverty Alleviation and Development, China, the agricultural land is protected by the law from being used for any other purpose. There are 1.8 billion Chine units or MU of land. Each MU is equivalent to 666 square metres.
Population boom in the large cities also has other pitfalls, demanding the government redesign its urban planning again and again. The remedial plans can be environmentally devastating.
For instance, for a city of 30 million people, Beijing has a serious water crisis. To reduce this crisis, China is spending billions of dollars to divert the Yangse River to Beijing. This river originates from the Himalayas and meets the sea near Shanghai. The diversion will benefit several cities.
“But there will be a negative environmental impact on the people in the lower riparian areas due to this diversion. But many provinces will be benefited by it,” said Fan Jida, during a discussion with a delegation of Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League party, in Beijing.
Of the 650 cities in China, 400 lacks adequate water supply and for more than one-fourth, the crisis is acute.
In addition to this, China is also witnessing a massive real estate growth. Anyone visiting the country will notice dozens of high-rise buildings in newly developed areas in a city. While these apartment complexes are costly, these are quickly being sold out. But many people are buying them as investments.
Officials say there are now three million apartments in China which are not being occupied. These are being purchased by hoarders, who are counting on better days to sell them out at much higher prices.
The Awami League central committee delegation headed by Akhtaruzzaman included lawmaker Khalid Mahmood Chowdhury, Badiuzzaman Bhuiyan, Ashim Kumar Ukil, Afzal Hossain, Sujit Roy Nandi, Mohammad Aminul Islam and AKM Enamul Hoque Shamim.
They exchanged views with Chinese counterparts on poverty alleviation measures in Bangladesh.—Asia News Network / The Daily Star