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Land seizure subsidy and hukou system give weak support

2013-11-01 13:21 CNTV Web Editor: Li Yan

Urbanization in China has been changing people's lives fast and on an extensive scale. A recent survey by Tsinghua University shows as much as 16 percent of the people polled nationwide had their land seized or homes demolished during the country's urbanization drive. The aim may be to enable more rural residents to enjoy urban perks, but how are they really adapting to their new environment?

Urbanization has taken away homes and lands in a bid to settle more rural residents into bigger cities, which in theory grants a better life. Researchers now estimate some 60 million Chinese households have had to make the move. But according to a Tsinghua university survey, compensations given to affected families are not enough to help them adapt to a different lifestyle.

"Farmers, especially older ones, who have their land seized and moved to urban areas usually have no other living skills other than farming. It's not enough to just compensate them for the loss of land, but the next step for the government is to help them acquire skills for other employment, so they can have a sustainable new life pattern in cities. Work in this area has been done but it's far from covering all the affected." Researcher from Renmin University's National Academy of Development & Strategy Duan Chengrong said.

The survey indicates only 4 percent of those whose land was seized were given help in finding a job, while even less of those who had their homes demolished received such support. As substantial financial gains usually come with the commercial use of seized lands, some researchers suggest in future farmers should also reap some of the benefits from these revenues.

In the last two decades more than half of China's population has migrated from rural areas into cities, fighting to live an improved life. However, during this time only a very small portion of these new city dwellers have obtained Hukou or urban household registration. This means the rest have been contributing to their new hometowns, but are excluded from receiving equal benefits in housing, education, medical insurances and so on.

"The government's next step is to ensure basic equal opportunities for the migrant population. The fundamental reason why so many people would rather work in bigger cities without hukou, than seek work in smaller cities that have a lower urban registration threshold, is that the opportunities in bigger cities are far greater and they can make much more money." Duan said.

Duan believes China's urbanization has a vital influence on the country's development strategy, and the focus now should better include smaller cities and rural areas."

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