December 07, 2009

Free to Shop

Beijing will loosen the infamous hukou system in a bid to hasten urbanization and get Chinese to consume more. The Central Economic Work Conference of China's central government met over the weekend and announced reforms of the hukou or household registration system to allow rural migrants to gain citizen's rights (access to eduction & housing mostly) in small to medium sized cities. The expansion of hukou rights may allow many migrants to settle in the cities where they find work.

The Work Conference embraced the concept, mostly imposed on China by Western partners, that consumption must be a driving (if not the driving) force in the Chinese economy. The conference said the goal was for consumption to replace public spending. Yet a more rapid settlement of migrants to China's growing mega cities will only increase the need for more infrastructure - roads, railroads, subways, housing, electricity, etc., which is reflected in the dominance of investment as a major force in China's economy. Stocks in property companies rose today, some analysts say on the news. But rural migrants are at the bottom of the elaborate class structure in China and usually too poor and too conservative to quickly become materialistic consumers.

The hukou system began in the early 1950s as a way to prevent Chinese cities from becoming overrun by poor rural migrants and end up like the major cities of the so-called developing world, that is overwhelmed by slums and unplanned development. The system became a major component of the centrally planned economy at the height of Mao's dictatorship and ultimately held back China's cities. Since 2001 it has been relaxed to varying degrees at the Provincial level and in national policy. Also as with so many laws in China it is often completely ignored....

Labels: ,

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]