|Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, speaks at a central urbanization work conference in Beijing, capital of China. The conference was held in Beijing from Dec. 12 to 13. (Xinhua/Wang Ye)|
BEIJING, Dec. 14 -- China on Saturday pledged proactive yet steady moves in pushing forward human-centered urbanization as it looks to balance urban-rural development and unleash domestic demand.
Urbanization is the road China must take in its modernization drive, and it offers an important way to address rural problems, according to a statement released after a central urbanization work conference.
The two-day meeting, which ended on Friday, was attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and senior leaders Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli.
This was the most high-level meeting the Chinese leadership has ever convened on urbanization.
URBANITE STATUS FOR MIGRANT WORKERS
While promising to focus on the quality of urbanization and improve the living standards of urban residents, the statement said the primary task is to enable migrant workers to win urbanite status in an orderly manner.
The statement came as China's rigid "hukou" (household registration) system has prevented migrants from gaining equal access to services in cities, posing a major barrier holding back the country's urbanization process.
By the end of 2012, China has 710 million urban residents. For the first time in China's history, its urban population exceeded rural population, with city-dwellers accounting for 51.27 percent of the total population.
Caught between the urban and rural residents are an army of 260 million migrant workers who live in cities but do not have access to the same public services as other urbanites who hold a city "hukou".
Saturday's statement promised that endeavors would be exerted to gradually allow migrant workers to become more integrated in cities, fully remove hukou restrictions in towns and small cities, gradually ease restrictions in mid-sized cities, and set reasonable conditions for settling in big cities while strictly controlling the population in megacities.
Cities should develop their industries based on their unique resource advantages and enhance cooperation in professional services, especially the service sector, to consolidate industrial development foundation and encourage innovations.
Measures and policies to enable migrant workers to win urbanite status should be carried out in line with farmers' willingness, and should proceed in the light of local conditions, the statement said.
Priority should be given to urbanizing current rural population working in cities while guiding those new migrant workers, it said.
Quality development of urbanization, it said, is conducive to unleashing huge potential in domestic demand, lifting productivity and breaking up the city-country dualistic economic structure.
According to the statement, exertions will be made to build up a diverse and sustainable funding mechanism for the drive. It stressed the importance of green and low-carbon development in future urbanization.
It called for higher utilization rate of urban construction land, with new construction land being strictly controlled and inventory being efficiently used.
Urban construction will avoid excessive area expansion in developing cities and towns, as the bottom line of farmland's area and quality should be secured.
The statement put particular emphasis on urbanization in the less-developed central, west and northeast regions, with the aim at making growth more balanced.
Under the guidance of market and government planning, China should gradually form several city clusters in those regions to make them "important growth poles", the statement said.
It also called for better construction and governance in the cities.
NO PURSUIT OF QUICK RESULTS
The statement warned that development targets of urbanization should be practical and realistic, and they should not come as a result of administrative decrees.
Officials should not make unrealistic pursuit of quick results over urbanization, and instead, they should push forward with urbanization in an active and steady manner, it stressed.