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Let nation’s cities grow on their own

(Global Times)

08:38, February 17, 2013

In recent months, we have seen the Chinese media repeatedly emphasize the importance of urbanization as a new economic growth engine, one that is expected to drive some 40 trillion yuan ($6.41 trillion) into infrastructure construction over the coming decade. The markets are excited about this plan as well, which many predict will set the country on a course toward consumption-oriented development.

But looking back, we can see that China went from being 18 percent urban in 1978 to 53 percent in 2012 without the help of any grand urbanization programs or initiatives. Continued urbanization cannot rely solely on the government's policies. Instead, the spread of China's cities should be the result of the development of society, the market, industries and culture. Ultimately, the role of the government should be creating a suitable environment for the private sector to grow and attract people away from rural regions.

The author is Xu Xiaonian, professor at China Europe International Business School.

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