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English Subtitles

China is about to reach a milestone in its economic transformation

In the next couple of years, for the first time in the country's history, urban residents will outnumber rural ones

China's cities have ballooned in recent years as migrants from the countryside has surged in to find work

This process of urbanisation is a crucial driver of China's economic growth

The migrants not only provide labour for factories, they also boost consumption by renting apartments, shopping in markets, eating in restaurants and using nearby services

China needs more consumption of this kind

Officials say, and many economists agree, that the country has relied too much on investment and exports

The good news for China's economy is that urbanisation still has a long way to run

In 1978 only 18% of Chinese lived in cities.

This rose to 30% in 1995 and nearly 40% in 2002

Now, it's just shy of half

But this is still far lower than Europe's urbanisation rate of more than 75%, or America's of over 80%

McKinsey, a consultancy, reckons that another 350 million Chinese could move into cities over the next two decades

That's the equivalent of more than America's entire population.

But it won't be easy

China's urbanisation is running into difficulties

Young people have left the countryside in droves, leaving many villages only with elderly people and children

As the young migrants get older, they find it increasingly difficult to find work in the cities.

But still they have their land, and some decide to go back

The challenge will be ensuring the migrants become fully-fledged, productive urbanites for their entire life times

One obstacle is the system of household registration called 'Hucow'

This is a relic of the Mao era, when the Communist Party decided to segregate urban and ruled residence and gave them at different welfare benefits

These days it does not stop migration but it slows it down by making it very difficult for rural Hucow holders to get access to urban schools hospitals and subsidised housing

Another problem is the system of rural land ownership which acts as a powerful deterrent against permanent migration

Rural Hucow holders are entitled to till a small piece of land

They can rent it out but they can't sell or mortgage it

The government sees it as a kind of welfare provision

With their little plots of land, people in the countryside will not go hungry or destitute

Not surprisingly, many rural Hucow holders would like to keep this benefit

Some Chinese economists say it is time to privatise rural land

This will allow farmers to sell it and start-up a new in cities

But there is a powerful resistance in the party to any such reform

Conservatives feel they're giving farmers such freedom would trigger an avalanche of landless people that were turned suedes of China's cities into slams

China is proud of having so far largely avoided this common problem in the rest of the developing world

In the minds of party leaders, the global financial crisis has strengthened the case precaution

As many as 20 million migrant workers temporarily lost their jobs when the crisis broke into thousand and eight

Having farmland to go back to, many officials believed, kept them from taking to the streets

The party's fear of instability is holding back reforms which are much needed to keep the economy building in the years ahead

Introduction

What are the problems of migration in China?  This video covers many areas related to migration in China. it is also a good source of expressions related to statistics. 

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