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Rural workers look for work in urban China

Rural workers gather at a labor market in the southwestern Chinese megapolis of Chongqing in search of jobs as chefs.

They are holding placards stating the dishes they can cook. The cooks say when they can get a job they earn 2,000 - 7,000 yuan per month, a phenomenal improvement over tilling the fields.

China is pushing ahead with a dramatic, history-making plan to move 250 million rural residents into towns and cities over the next dozen years — 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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Rural workers gather at a labor market in the southwestern Chinese megapolis of Chongqing in search of jobs as chefs. <br />
<br />
They are holding placards stating the dishes they can cook. The cooks say when they can get a job they earn 2,000 - 7,000 yuan per month, a phenomenal improvement over tilling the fields. <br />
<br />
China is pushing ahead with a dramatic, history-making plan to move 250 million rural residents into towns and cities over the next dozen years — 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.