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Urban China: Toward Efficient, Inclusive, and Sustainable Urbanization

By 2030, up to 70% of the Chinese population - some one billion - will be living in cities. How could China prepare for that? Find the answers in the report "Urban China: Toward Efficient, Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanization", as World Bank Country Director for China Klaus Rohland introduces it.

The joint report by the World Bank and the Development Research Center of China’s State Council, Urban China: Toward Efficient, Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanization, includes six priority areas for a new model of urbanization:

1. Reforming land management and institutions

  • Because most of the urban expansion in recent years was on converted rural land, the report says currently the amount of farmland available is close to the “red line” of 120 million hectares, which is considered to be the minimum necessary to ensure food security.
  • More efficient use of land will require stronger property rights for farmers, higher compensation for land requisition, new mechanisms for converting rural construction land to urban uses, and market-driven pricing for urban land allocation.
  • Legal limits should be set up on rural land taken for public purposes by local governments.

2. Reforming the hukou household-registration system to provide equal access to quality services for all citizens and create a more mobile and versatile labor force

  • The system should remove barriers to labor mobility from rural to urban areas, as well as between cities, to help boost workers’ wages.

3. Placing urban finances on a more sustainable footing, while creating financial discipline for local governments

  • The report recommends moving to a revenue system that would ensure a higher portion of local expenditures is financed by local revenues, such as property taxes and higher charges for urban services. 

4. Reforming urban planning and design

  • In cities, basing the government prices for industrial land on market value can encourage land-intensive industries to move to smaller, secondary cities.
  • Cities can also make better use of existing urban land through flexible zoning, with smaller plots and more mixed land use, which would lead to denser and more efficient urban development.
  • Linking transport infrastructure with urban centers and promoting coordination among cities would encourage better management of congestion and pollution. 

5. Managing environmental pressures

  • China already has tough environmental laws, regulations and standards, so the most important task for achieving greener urbanization is enforcement.
  • Market-based tools, such as taxes and trading systems for carbon, air and water pollution, and energy, can also be used more to meet environmental targets. 

6. Improving local governance

  • The performance evaluation system of local officials could be adjusted to give greater incentives for a more efficient, inclusive and sustainable urbanization process.