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Growing urban populations a big challenge

(China Daily)

08:50, November 20, 2012

The biggest challenge facing Chinese cities is handling the massive, ongoing influx of rural residents, according to a top expert on urban management.

"It's a challenge for almost every country, but it's a big one for countries such as China and India because of their large populations," said Alain Le Saux, secretary-general of the World Association of Major Metropolises.

Speaking at the Board of Directors meeting, held in Guangzhou from Nov 14 to 17, he said that in a global financial crisis, it is difficult for city leaders to allocate sufficient funding for new settlements, transportation, job opportunities and other resources to satisfy the needs of a growing population.

Chinese cities use the permanent household registration system - hukou - to distribute their limited public resources.

Guangzhou Mayor Chen Jianhua said at a seminar on Nov 16, part of this year's Guangzhou Urban Innovation Conference, that most fundamental public services in his city are reserved for hukou holders.

He promised that the city will make arrangements in terms of transport, education, healthcare, water, and cultural activities so that migrants can receive basic public services and social security.

The United Nations predicts urbanites will account for 60 percent of the world's population by 2030, making it a challenge for all metropolises to ensure an even distribution of limited resources, experts say.

Diana Meirelles da Motta, project management director for Sao Paulo Metropolitan Planning Co in Brazil, said city leaders should estimate the number of migrants and increase their budgets for public services to provide newcomers with sufficient resources in areas such as housing, transportation, education and healthcare.

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