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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Rural-urban migration : a case study of the People’s Republic of China Chung, Frances Po-Chu


The People's Republic of China is still a paradox: an old country yet a new nation, a society in evolution from a revolution while it is still in revolution. Before 1949, China was a war-torn country. Dejection and hunger prevailed. Today, there is a clearly apparent feeling of security, well-being and national pride. This thesis is primarily based on library research to find out more about China, focussing on China's response to its rural-urban movement. The theme is: "Has China, as a socialist economy practising command planning, been able to better contain and manage urban growth, particularly that due to rural-urban migration, than Third World market economies." The Republic of Indonesia is selected as a control because it too gained independence and full sovereignty in 1949. It is also classified as a Third World developing country which inherited a backward economy and a big population. The major difference is that China is a socialist economy while Indonesia is a market economy. A comparison of the urbanization record of the two countries reveals the following characteristics: 1) The annual rate of urban growth is not significantly dissimilar. 2) The stage of urbanization is similar. 3) The two countries differ in the management of the distribution of urban growth. China managed to reduce its primacy index and control tlie growth of its two largest cities: Shanghai and Peking. Indonesia is still struggling with the primacy of Djakarta. 4) After the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, 1966-68, China adopted the bottom-up "agropolitan" approach to bring industry and social services to the rural communes. Indonesia has begun discussing the concept, but has not implemented the strategy yet. In other words, China adopted two major strategies in directing the distribution of its urban growth: 1) Concentrated Decentralization: directing growth away from the largest cities (particularly former treaty ports) to medium-sized urban centres in the inland; 2) The Agropolitan Approach: dispersing industry and other urban functions more widely into the rural areas through the institution of the commune. The conclusion drawn is that China, as a socialist economy, achieved relatively better results in managing and containing urban growth than Indonesia, a market economy. China may not be able to model the world in its response to rural-urban migration, but the strategies it implemented are worthy of serious consideration by other Third World countries.

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