In the study of human geography, there are many aspects of humans and the surrounding which are tackled. Such aspects help us to understand the past, current, and the future trends of human population both in urban and rural areas. This essay is entirely aimed at discussing human population specifically in Asian history. Much emphasis will be put on key trends regarding population which have occurred in china over the past two decades. Further, the essay shall discuss the reasons for rampant rural to urban migration and the development of both Beijing and shaghai as modern mega cities. This essay shall further discuss the infrastructure challenges facing Chinese economy and how china as a whole will look like in the next 20 years coming.
What key trends, regarding population, have occurred in China, over the past 20 years? How will china look like in the next 20 years regarding the current human population in cities and rural areas?
Key trends regarding human population in china
In general the world’s population is increasing tremendously and by October 1999 it stepped at 6 billion. Of the six billion people china recorded more that a fifth of the whole population. Currently, the Chinese population exceeds 1.25 billion and it still continues to increase daily. This huge population, tumultuous demographic history and possible future have raised worlds attention. The countries enormous economic growth together with its demographic might ensures that the country will stay sustainable for a long time to come (Chan & Zhang 2006).
The 2010 china’s census revealed that 49.7 percent of the china’s populations live in urban centers. This percentage increased by 13.8 percent that of 2000. There is an expectation of the percentage of people living in urban areas to increase for around 40 percent today to 60 percent by 2030. The report issued by state media in 2010 revealed that, china’s urban population will overtake its rural population by the year 2015 with about 700 million people living in urban areas. By 2030 the population is expected to reach over 60 percent. In 1978 when the Deng economic reforms were launched, 172 million people were urban residents. This number had risen to around 577 million residents in 2008. With the increased wages and consumption rates in urban centers as compared to country side, more populations is expected to move from countryside to the city. Urban population comprise of urban residents and migrant workers, private sector workers, workers of state enterprises, political elite, the emerging middle class and disenfranchised masses. Income for city dwellers nearly doubled between 2000 and 2005. More so, city people are more educated as compared to rural areas where the incomes are stagnant and education systems have grown worse and unaffordable (Greenhalgh, 2003).
All cities in china share the same demographic trends. Shanghai which has grown to be the biggest city in china also shares the same demographic trend. 8 million of shanghai’s 13 million people live in urban area. The higher population in the city has made the government build over a million new housing units to help workers (Sigley, 2001).
The development of shanghaies and Beijing as modern mega cities
China has got over 669 cities. More than 100 of these cities have a population of over 1 million. In 1989, china had less than 50 cities which were under developed but currently they have grown to modern cities dominated with skyscrapers, shopping malls and traffic jams. Shaghai and Beijing are among the Chinese cities which have grown tremendously into mega cities. Shaghai city was established as trading centre for livestock from the dry plains and grains from irrigated plains and fruits from the coastal region and in the mountains. As the city grew it was surrounded by agricultural districts that produced large surpluses that supported/ fed the large populations of craftsmen and merchants.
Shaghai has got very wide roads, cycle lanes, many universities, a good number of technical institutes, hospitals and medical schools. The large population in the city has made the economy to grow spontaneously since they provide cheap labour. The government is dedicated to change completely the phase of the small haphazard cities in china and build mega cities which are planned. For instance Shaghai is planned to be accommodating tens of millions of people. This city is characterized by well planned urban infrastructure, beginning with roads to buildings (Fan, 2006). The cities primary financial resources are traditional factories owned by the government whose duty is to grind steel, cars and textile. These industries are hidden behind the costly façade west of the city centre where most of the foreigners hardly travel to. This protects the cities gleaming appearance. The government keeps tight control of population. Peasant migrants who work menial jobs in Shaghai are seen as stains on the city which is western oriented and are prevented from living their or taking their children in local schools. Only Shaghai citizen are aloud to live in the city permanently.
Beijing has grown from an ugly city separate by hutong to a magnificent city admired by many people. The buildings are all modern with the roads very well constructed. Because of the many cars in Beijing there is a very few places to walk. Stand alone shops are rare for they have been overtaken by malls. The city has limited number of police and people here understand that law breakers face serious punishments. Migrant are not allowed din the city for along time (Fan, 2006).
Challenges facing infrastructure in China
Over the past few decades, China’s transport industry has grown in leaps and bounds. However this is not without their fair share of challenges. The following are some of the challenges that have been identified.
Perhaps this is one of the major challenges that is being faced by the transport system in china. This is mainly due to the fact that majority of people have turned to personal cars, motor cycles and taxi as a form of transport. Whilst this are better means of transport, their negative impact to the environment can not be overemphasized (Feng, 2004).
High costs of fuel
Due to the rapid increase in the number of autos in China, it has placed a lot of pressure on the few available resources in the country. This is is even made worse by the fact that China exports some of this products. This partly explains the high transport cost in China when compared to countries like USA and Japan.
Due to growth in number of personal cars on the roads in China and subsequent migration from the rural areas to the urban centers, traffic jams on China roads are not uncommon. This has brought a lot of challenges to authorities like wastage of useful man hours, fuel, congestion and pollution. Despite numerous efforts that have been made to curb this challenge, it still remains a great challenge for (Sigley, 2001).
China in the future
China has won the reputation of the fastest growing economy in the 21st century. It has grown so much that some critics have argued that it may soon overtake the USA as the super power. Whether these sentiments are true or wrong it remains to be seen. Even the famous American magazine, the ‘economist’ has reportedly quoted that China is a growing economic and military super power. This has made many people focus their attention to this Asian tiger.
Politically Chinas democracy can be said to be growing although at a lower speed. Thus there is stable political atmosphere to allow for smooth economic activity. There is growing evidence that greater economic development that has been experienced in the recent past may catapult the communist party into embracing democracy. This also in turn attracts investors into the country. Again there is a feeling that china economic development will have an impact on its democracy.
Another challenge of the future will be the endless wrangles between the capitalist and communist protagonists. There is a feeling that communist don’t want to pave way for the capitalist. Many people have a feeling that capitalism may be the way out to encourage democracy, social justice and international good will especially from the western economies.
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