China has 740 million living in cities now, 840 million in 2020 and possibly 1 billion in 2030

China currently has about 54% (740 million)of the Chinese population living in cities. China has six megacities of more than 10 million inhabitants and 103 cities of more than one million inhabitants. This presents China with a unique set of urban challenges that rapidly need to be addressed to ensure that these cities remain liveable, productive and sustainable. China’s urbanization rate is slated to grow to 60% by 2018, two years earlier than initially forecast, the need to address these urban challenges is all the more pressing. Here we look at information from a World Economic Forum report and a Wall Street Journal article.

It is estimated that China will continue its massive urban expansion at an estimated speed of 1% each year.
(China State Council, 2014). This would be 72% urbanization by 2030 and this could be 1 billion people if China’s population is 1.4 billion or more.

China’s Hukou reform plans to get 100 million more official residents into China’s cities by 2020 are taking shape. The new reforms are remarkably liberal on urbanization in China’s small and medium-sized cities, removing the hukou requirement entirely. Small cities will additionally have no limits on the number of new settlers.

Hukou reform could still run into trouble. A survey by the Sichuan province bureau of statistics, published last week, found that 90% of migrant workers don’t even want an urban hukou.

For many, the benefits of better health care and being able to bring their children with them don’t outweigh the perks of rural residency, which include a guaranteed (though generally very small) allocation of agricultural land, the survey found.

The World Economic Forum has released a new report, The Future of Urban Development Initiative: Dalian and Zhangjiakou Champion City Strategy, in collaboration with the China Center for Urban Development (CCUD).

The report identifies three main urbanization themes for Chinese cities:
1. transport planning and management
2. urban energy management
3. sustainable industry development

They propose 19 strategic recommendations and best practices case studies to guide Dalian and Zhangjiakou.

Strategic Recommendations

Develop ITS for traffic management to maximize intracity traffic efficiency
– Since Dalian has inherited a complex road network system, comprehensive analysis and modelling is vital to avoid implementing road improvements at the expense of other parts of the city.
– Electronic road pricing (ERP) at the city level could be introduced to further encourage road users to stagger their work hours to moderate peak hour traffic.
– ERP revenue should be “ring fenced” for public transport improvement, acting as a transitional incentive for achieving a mode shift from private car to public transport use.

Encourage the use of public transport through preferential policies
– A shift from modal competition to modal cooperation should be encouraged to harvest synergies between different modes of public transport.
– Enhancing comfort and convenience, such as cleanness, quietness, Wi-Fi-provision, loyalty programmes and an integrated payment system, in public transport is a simple but effective way to enhance

More flexible forms of public transport such as “residential shuttle buses” and “mini-buses” would give commuters direct and frequent connection to metro stations.

Discourage car use at peak hours
– Instead of controlling car ownership, a more pragmatic approach would be to curb car use by pricing externalities correctly (e.g. a gasoline tax, parking fees and a congestion charge).
– Car sharing balances the occasional need of auto mobility by individuals and the control of frequent car use for collective benefit.
– Variable parking fees and real-time parking availability data could reduce traffic while drivers look for spaces.

Install an appropriate institutional mechanism
– A transport authority reporting directly to the mayor could result in more holistic approaches to public and private transport investments by better coordinating inputs and responsibilities among different departments

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