China’s Urban Future: Policy, People and Social Change

Professor Christine Wong1, Dr Sarah Rogers1, Dr Gerald Roche2, Dr Lei Yu1, Mr Randong Yuan1

1The Center for Contemporary Chinese Studies, Asia Institute, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, 2The Department of Politics, Media, and Philosophy at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

Chair: Dr Lei Yu

Overview:

The launch of the ‘new-type’ urbanisation strategy is in the context of China’s transition to a ‘new normal 新常态’ of slower growth, which entails substantial rebalancing and structural reforms aiming for a more sustainable model of economic development. A core component of the strategy is to accelerate people-centred urbanisation – a process that involves fully integrating rural migrants into urban society on the basis of equal access to public services, rights and benefits.

This panel of four papers provides insights into this development, focusing on the rollout of policies, variation across localities and the distribution of benefits in the contexts of social security reforms, affordable housing delivery, poverty alleviation through resettlement, and trans-local community building through circular migration. Through exploring the trends and diversities in which migration, urbanisation and regional inequalities affect social change and people’s livelihoods, these studies contribute to enhanced understanding of the challenges that China faces in pursuing inclusive and sustainable growth. Acknowledging significant gaps between policy aspirations and benefits received, they bring the efficacy of China’s campaign-style approach of social welfare and service expansion into question.

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