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A farmer grows food in front of urban relocation project in China

Farmer Wang Mei, 87, grows food in a plot in front of a giant relocation housing project in a southwestern Chinese city.

Her neigbours were all moved from their farmland and resettled nearby in this purpose-built estate on the outskirt of the city.

She, however, has not been given an apartment because she was a distant migrant without legal permit to live there. She bemoans this and said she wished the government would take her land and give her an apartment instead.

China is pushing ahead with a dramatic, history-making plan to move 100 million rural residents into towns and cities between 2014 and 2020 — but without a clear idea of how to pay for the gargantuan undertaking or whether the farmers involved want to move.

Moving farmers to urban areas is touted as a way of changing China’s economic structure, with growth based on domestic demand for products instead of exporting them. In theory, new urbanites mean vast new opportunities for construction firms, public transportation, utilities and appliance makers, and a break from the cycle of farmers consuming only what they produce.

Urbanization has already proven to be one of the most wrenching changes in China’s 35 years of economic reforms. Land disputes rising from urbanization account for tens of thousands of protests each year.

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Farmer Wang Mei, 87, grows food in a plot in front of a giant relocation housing project in a southwestern Chinese city.<br />
<br />
Her neigbours were all moved from their farmland and resettled nearby in this purpose-built estate on the outskirt of the city.<br />
<br />
She, however, has not been given an apartment because she was a distant migrant without legal permit to live there. She bemoans this and said she wished the government would take her land and give her an apartment instead.<br />
<br />
China is pushing ahead with a dramatic, history-making plan to move 100 million rural residents into towns and cities between 2014 and 2020 — but without a clear idea of how to pay for the gargantuan undertaking or whether the farmers involved want to move.<br />
<br />
Moving farmers to urban areas is touted as a way of changing China’s economic structure, with growth based on domestic demand for products instead of exporting them. In theory, new urbanites mean vast new opportunities for construction firms, public transportation, utilities and appliance makers, and a break from the cycle of farmers consuming only what they produce.<br />
<br />
Urbanization has already proven to be one of the most wrenching changes in China’s 35 years of economic reforms. Land disputes rising from urbanization account for tens of thousands of protests each year.