Transform shantytowns to improve people’s lives

Updated: 2014-07-04 17:51

By Li Yang (

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Transforming shantytowns should, first and foremost, improve people’s standards of living, not boost investment or acquire land. The government should ensure that these projects’ progress is not affected by the cooling property market, says an article in the 21st Century Business Herald. Excerpts:

Premier Li Keqiang has stressed several times since taking office that local governments should ensure that enough money is set aside to transform city shantytowns.

Li did a good job with this aspect when he was provincial governor in Liaoning.

The Chinese central government decided to create a national project in July 2013, and plans to move 10 million families out of their old, shabby houses by 2017, especially in the industrial cities and regions that have depleted their natural resources.

The shantytown transformation project has three main components. Low-income people can get a better living environment. By moving residents into new communities, the governments can obtain more land in the center of cities. And the projects need lots of investment, while boosting consumption and economic growth.

Local governments must know the main goal of the project is to improve poor people’s lives, not securing land or boosting investment.

To serve the main purpose well, the governments must have enough money and build enough new housing.

After China’s property market cooled down recently, it became increasingly difficult for local governments to solve the two problems.

Thus, the governments should reduce their reliance on real estate developers and divert more money to ensure that the projects are not affected by changes in the housing market. Creating more jobs in residential regions, developing service sectors and supporting facilities should make it easier for the governments to persuade residents to move out of their old houses into new places.