Updated: 2013-06-14 09:33

(China Daily)

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China's household registration system divides citizens into rural and urban categories, to prevent large-scale population movements and ensure social stability.


China's urban population is 18 percent when it starts to shift from a planned to a market economy.

1983 to early 1990s

A new wave of reforms gradually grant farmers new rights to sell crops directly to markets outside their hometowns and take up employment or set up their own businesses in cities. This encourages rural-urban migration.


Urban population reaches 26 percent of total population.

March 2001

The 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05) lists urbanization as a national strategy, and says rising levels of urbanization will optimize the economic structure and create virtuous cycles of sustainable socio-economic development.


The number of people not registered at their current place of residence reaches 150 million, representing 10 percent of the total population. 80 percent of them are migrant workers from the countryside.

March 2006

Urbanization continues to be a key strategy in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10), with increasing emphasis on reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, and reducing the rural-urban divide.


Launch of the UK-China Sustainable Cities Initiative, a government-led project that aims to foster business collaboration in sustainable urban development.


McKinsey Global Institute publishes the report Preparing for China's Urban Billion, which forecasts China will derive 90 percent of GDP from its urban economy by 2025. By then, the country will have 221 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants, compared with just 35 in Europe in 2008.

March 2011

The 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) sets targets to accommodate growing urban population by developing 36 million units of affordable housing.

Launch of UrbaChina, a research project managed by 11 European and Chinese academic institutions, which analyses urbanization in a comparative approach and seeks to identify opportunities for mutual learning.


Shanghai and Chongqing start testing a model of collecting property taxes to ensure a stable and sustainable source of revenue for local governments.

China's urban population outnumbers rural population for the first time, reaching 51.3 percent.

February 2012

Launch of the EU-China Partnership on Urbanization, a government-led project to encourage sharing of expertise and technology between EU and Chinese officials and businesses on urbanization.

April 2012

The Shenzhen government draws up a pilot regulation that allows migrant workers to obtain urban household registration via an evaluation system.

January 2013

Severity of pollution in China's urban centers is highlighted by unprecedented heavy smog.

March 2013

Premier Li Keqiang tells the annual session of national legislators and political advisers that a people-focused "new type of urbanization" will facilitate better integration of migrant workers into urban society and encourage development.

May 2013

Li Tie, director-general of the China Center for Urban Development at the National Development and Reform Commission, announces that a new plan on urbanization will be issued in the second half of the year.

(China Daily European Weekly 06/14/2013 page6)