Li Keqiang

World Bank to help tackle China's urbanisation

As millions migrate to nation's urban areas, premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang and World Bank boss Jim Yong Kim agree to launch new study

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 December, 2012, 3:57am

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has pledged to help Beijing come to terms with the migration of millions into the mainland's fast-developing cities.

The new joint study was suggested by premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang when the pair met this week during Kim's first official visit to China.

The World Bank says that by 2030, nearly two-thirds of the nation's population is expected to be living in urban areas.

That means about 14 million more people will flow into cities every year. Kim said at a media briefing to conclude his visit that China was a country "that has made a remarkable achievement in lifting 600 million people out of poverty in the past three decades, but still faces the challenge today of being home to the second-largest number of poor in the world".

According to a Xinhua report, Li told Kim that China's development remains "very imbalanced", particularly due to the huge gap between urban and rural areas. But Li said: "The gap also means potential. Urbanisation will provide the biggest development potential for the next few decades."

The new study will be designed to help not only China, but all developing countries faced with a massive influx of people into cities.

Kim, appointed head of the World Bank in July, praised Li's enthusiasm for working out a strategy to deal with urbanisation. He was also optimistic about China's economic growth under the new leadership.

Kim said its recent "strong numbers" were encouraging, though economic expansion was set to slow from the average 10 per cent growth over the past decade.

Asked by a reporter whether China's development may end up being "a hay fire" due to certain "unstable, unbalanced, unco-ordinated and unsustainable" problems in the economy, Kim said he did not think so.

He said his confidence was partially influenced by Li's strong willingness to tackle the problems. "He wants to think deeply and strategically about the most important issues facing China," said Kim. "He asked us to engage in the study quickly and wants it to help form his own strategic approach to urbanisation."

He added: "We were very impressed with the openness of the Chinese government."

The urbanisation study will be carried out by the World Bank and China's Development Research Centre of the State Council, after they issued a report called China 2030 in February.

In that report, the institutions urged Beijing to prioritise reforms in key areas, including reducing the monopoly of the state sector.

It also called for the overhaul of the hukou, or household registration, system, which is believed to have hindered the flow of rural labourers into cities.