Anthony Saich's "China Urbanizes: Consequences, Strategies, and Policies"

China Urbanizes: Consequences, Strategies, and Policies

Anthony Saich , Daewoo Professor of International Affairs and Director of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School

Shahid Yusuf


The key challenges facing China in the next two decades derive from the ongoing process of urbanization. China's urbanization rate in 2005 was about 43%. Over the next 10-15 years, it is expected to rise to well over 50%, adding an additional 200 million mainly rural migrants to the current urban population of 560 million. How China copes with such a large migration flow will strongly influence rural-urban inequality, the pace at which urban centers expand their economic performance, and the urban environment. The growing population will necessitate a big push strategy to maintain a high rate of investment in housing and the urban physical infrastructure and urban services. To finance such expansion will require a significant strengthening and diversification of China's financial system. Growing cities will greatly increase consumption of energy and water. Containing this without at the same time constraining the economic performance of cities or the improvement in the standards of living will call for enlightened policies, strategies, careful urban planning, and significant technological advances. This volume identifies the key developments to watch and discusses the policies which would affect the course as well as the fruitfulness of change.

Notable Quotes

"China today is at a midpoint in the largest rural-to-urban migration in history. This transformation from a rural to a predominantly urban society poses enormous challenges and opportunities for China. This book of essays by outstanding scholars of China and urbanization is among the first to look at this process comprehensively. It will inform both outsiders desiring a better understanding of Chinese urbanization and insiders directly involved in trying to strengthen the policies and institutions that are shaping this transformation."

-- Dwight H. Perkins Harold Hitchings Burbank Research Professor of Political Economy, Department of Economics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

"Of all the challenges China faces-including unemployment, environmental stress, inequality, and weak banks-rapid urbanization is the greatest, and it lies at the confluence of the others. This volume examines each problem of urbanization-inequality, poverty, finance, energy, water, and governance-with a balance rare in a field dominated by China hype and China bashing. The authors explain how China's cities managed to absorb 370 million immigrants in 25 years without becoming Lagos or Mumbai, but also emphasize the daunting hurdles ahead. Saich notes both that over 80 percent of China's people approve of the central government's performance and catalogs pervasive governance failures and weaknesses. The scholar who reflects deeply on the introductory summary will understand more about China's development than the reader of a shelf of more specialized or emotional books on China."

-- William H. Overholt Chair and Director, RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy, Santa Monica, California

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