Ni Pengfei 倪鹏飞, The characteristics, problems and policy recommendations about China’s urbanisation

Professor Ni Pengfei 倪鹏飞.  recently published an article in Zhongguo guoqing guoli1

Urbanisation is an important process, which promotes national economic and social development. It is also an important development strategy for China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015). The authors highlight several features of Chinese urbanisation, and point out the main problems confronting it; they then make policy recommendations for the development of China’s urbanisation.

Basing their calculations on the data gathered during the 2010 census, the authors predict that during the “12th Five-Year ” period, China’s urban population will surpass its rural population. The level of urbanisation in the future will not be greatly improved with merely a stable growth rate of 1%. As for the population flow in China, the population of small cities is moving to medium-sized cities while the population of medium-sized cities is moving to large cities. Population movement has sped up more dramatically than it ever has before. As a result of pollution caused by urbanisation, the construction of transportation networks that rely on energy from green sources (renewable energy) has become the growing trend.

In the process of urbanisation, the problems the Chinese government faces include census registration problems, social welfare and unemployment after a change of residence from rural to state-owned urban land. This problem arises from the differences which exist between state-owned land and land owned collectively by farmers under the Chinese land ownership system. In addition, registration of families, with or without farms, is defined by the Chinese family registration system. However, when land owned by farmers is converted to state property, the farmers who originally lived in the rural area are forced to immigrate to the city. In China, transference of the family registration is strictly forbidden. The farmers’ registration cannot be easily transferred to the status of “urban family”. This limits population mobility and restricts freedom of migration between cities, which in turn influences issues such as rural housing, free medical treatment, and social insurance. The problem is caused by the delay of the census registration for the farmers, which bars them from their right to social welfare benefits. At the same time, there is also the problem the construction of urban public facilities. The authors have taken Beijing city as an example: the city is flooded whenever there is heavy rain. This is due to the poor design of the drainage system. And there are other problems of environmental pollution caused by urbanisation as well.

The authors make further recommendations for the development of China’s urbanisation. They suggest solving the problem of the census registration of farmers’ families. They recommended that the government accept farmers who have a stable job and have been living a fixed number of years in the city as urban citizens. They also suggest creating a series of schemes that can help the farmers with land acquisition and compensation, as well as provide social security and employment services to prevent them from losing both their jobs and their identity when they lose their land. The authors also recommended that during the urbanisation process, the policy should strictly control heavily polluting industries, and should then develop a low-carbon economy to protect the ecological environment.


  1. Zhao Zheng 赵峥, Ni Pengfei 倪鹏飞, “Dangqian wo guo chengzhen hua fazhan de tezheng, wenti ji zhengce jianyi”  当前我国城镇化发展的特征、问题及政策建议, Zhongguo guoqing guoli  2012, 2. Full text available on CNKI []

Chi-Han Ai

Ph.D. candidate of EHESS ( École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris) focusing on regional economic development in China and Taiwan.

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