International attention on future reform agenda for China

Updated: 2013-11-07 16:22


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On urbanization and social equality

Glyn Ford, a former member of the European Parliament

Ford says continuation of balanced development in urban and rural areas, and coastal and inland regions is needed while the country tackles other pressing issues such as corruption, rule of law and the need to stabilize population movements.

"I think the imbalance between the rural and urban, coastal and inland regions and rule of law are the biggest challenges that China faces," Ford says.

Martin Schoenhals, a professor at Columbia University in New York, expects the meeting to provide breakthroughs in achieving social equality in China.

"From my perspective as a long-time researcher on China, what is worrisome is the growing inequality," he says.

Schoenhals says farmers are the key to the growth puzzle. "They account for more than 70 percent of the population, even though some of them no longer hold any land. Historically also, China had a revolution that sought to provide land to farmers. If farmers lose land, or access to land, it will result in mass migration to cities and urban poverty, Schoenhals says.

"What worries me is whether these hundreds of millions of farmers can move to the cities and all find and keep jobs."

China's new leadership has already provided enough indications that it plans to chart a roadmap for urbanization. While this has long been in the works, experts feel that the plenum will provide the much-needed impetus by including it in the reform agenda.

However, Schoenhals feels the reform agenda should have steps to limit urbanization and outline steps to help farmers remain in the countryside if they so wish.

Jim Hagemann Snabe, the co-CEO of SAP AG

Urbanization will fuel China's economic growth and bring significant changes that rival the tremendous change of these past decades. Technology can help unlock the benefits of urbanization and solve some of the challenges we associate with it today.

The director of the Asia Research Center of the London School of Economics, Athar Hussain, said China has made great changes in the past few years, noting that urbanization, which requires both economic and political reform, will become the most important issue for the Chinese government in the next five years.

Hussain also forecasted that more city clusters, such as the Chengdu-Chongqing cluster in the central and western areas, will be created to reduce the stress on the four megacities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Colin Speakman, an economist and director of China Programs at CAPA International Education, an UK-US based organization that cooperates with Capital Normal University and Shanghai International Studies University

Although the growth of China's economy has slowed, there is every reason to believe that China can maintain a robust increase in its GDP of more than 7 percent a year over the next decade. China needs to take that opportunity to enter a new period of reform in which the taxation and social welfare policies more usually associated with a socialist society are implemented to counter the growth in inequality that the development of a capitalistic market development inevitably produces. [more]

Klaus Rohland, World Bank country director for China

Urbanization should be people centered and so provide equal access for all residents to similar levels of public services. The reform of the household registration system is central to overcoming the large rural-urban difference in access to jobs, key public services, and social protection. [more]