Outlook for the Urban Millennium
Chinese cities, with their huge pools of workers contracted from the countryside, will be particularly vulnerable in a world recession, which is bound to occur during the first two or three decades of the twenty first century. Even though the communist government has tried to prevent the influx for fear it could lead to urban unrest, escaping rural poverty by migrating to the more prosperous cities is a major aim of many Chinese farmers who have seen their real income fall in recent years. Yet over 12 million factory workers in the cities lost their jobs prior to China’s entry into the World Trade Organization and many more can be expected to follow as the bankrupt state-run industrial sector sheds workers. One strategy devised by the State Development Planning Commission envisages the creation of nearly 10,000 New Towns in the first decade of the twenty-first century to help modernise the countryside and absorb at least 100 million rural residents. Unlike many of its Asian neighbours, because China’s urbanisation rate stands at only about 32 per cent, the Commission has concluded that urbanisation should be a key component of the 10th Five-Year Plan, starting in 2001.