China's urbanization puts people at center
Updated: 2013-12-31 10:52
Urbanization over the last three decades has focused on the expansion of city areas while ignoring the needs of migrant workers for equal public services, said Zheng Fengtian, a professor with Renmin University of China. Human-centered urbanization is the way to fix the issue nationwide, he added.
Aware of the downsides of the existing strategy of simply increasing city size, the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China put forward a "new type of urbanization," which says "people come first."
At the third plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee, the CPC incorporated human-centered urbanization into an approved policy, calling it the core of urbanization.
On Dec 13, the CPC specified the primary task of human-centered urbanization as helping migrants to register as urban residents, which would give them and their accompanying families the same rights as any other urban residents.
At another policy meeting days later, the CPC set the target of a new hukou status for 100 million migrant workers by the end of 2020.
Zheng said that if pure expansion of city area defined the old urbanization mode, then the feature of the new type of urbanization would be granting migrants hukou in cities.
To help migrant workers, the hukou system itself needs to change, and the government has accelerated changes to the hukou system several times in past months. Most notably, at the third plenum, it decided to remove controls over farmers settling in towns and small cities, and relax restrictions on settlement in medium-sized cities.
Moreover, the government has pledged to make basic urban public services like health care and education available to all permanent residents and to have all rural residents covered by the affordable housing system and social security network.
Researcher Wang Xiaoguang said "available for all" means equal access to public services for both migrant workers and urban residents - a move to redress the huge imbalance between the two.
On Dec 17, the timetable for reform became clear. Huang Ming, vice public security minister, told Xinhua that a new hukou system would make stable employment and housing the requirements for urban status by 2020.
The public security ministry, together with another 11 central ministries, has drawn up a plan for hukou reform and will publish it after some revisions. The details of the plan are still unknown.
The plan will be a guide for local governments to make more specific implementation plans.