China is targeting having 60 percent of the population in urban areas by 2020, according to the plan. That compares with 53.7 percent in 2013 and about 50 percent in 2010. The U.S. proportion was 82 percent in 2011 and Japan’s was 91 percent, according to a joint report in 2012 by the World Bank and Development Research Center of the State Council.
China will speed up the construction of railways, expressways and airports to support the rapid urbanization, Xinhua said in a separate report on the plan.
The government will remove restrictions on obtaining household registration permits in small cities and towns, while it will strictly control the populations of cities with more than 5 million urban residents, according to the plan. China will help 100 million people, including migrant workers, get status as urban residents by 2020.
The plan still projects only around 45% of the population would have full rights as urban residents, meaning they are eligible for city pension and medical coverage as well as public services like education for their children. The rate was 35.3% at the end of 2012.
The plan repeated previous government statements on allowing farmers more freedom in selling or leasing their land. It gave no timetable or specific targets.
Some smaller cities have already eased their hukou controls, which also tie benefits to a family’s residential status, to attract more rural laborers. But these efforts have only been partially successful because many people prefer to move to large cities for better job opportunities and public services.
The government would expand the coverage of social welfare, including pension and medical insurance, and reduce the costs of paying social insurance, the plan said without giving specifics.
China said it will invest more than 1 trillion yuan ($162 billion) redeveloping shantytowns this year as the government detailed how it will boost its urban population to support growth.
More than 4.75 million households will be involved.
Premier Li Keqiang said March 13 that tens of millions of people still live in shantytowns, which Xinhua says are areas of dilapidated housing where poor factory workers often live.
China completed 1.12 trillion yuan of investments in subsidized housing last year, according to housing ministry data. The government “basically completed work” on 5.44 million subsidized housing units in urban areas and started construction on another 6.66 million.
The number of rural migrant workers increased 2.4 percent to 268.94 million by the end of last year, accounting for 19.76 percent of the country’s total population. Currently, they do not have access to the same public services as other urbanites with a city “hukou”.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.