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Workers build an office block on former farmland in China

Former farmers build a new high-rise -- on a plot that was farmland just a few years ago -- in Linyi city in the northeastern Chinese province of Shangdong.

The local government is razing down this village on the outskirts of the city and turning farmland into an urban development zone.

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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COPYRIGHT BY J.JIN, 2012 by Justin Jin. All rights reserved.
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Former farmers build a new high-rise -- on a plot that was farmland just a few years ago -- in Linyi city in the northeastern Chinese province of Shangdong.<br />
<br />
The local government is razing down this village on the outskirts of the city and turning farmland into an urban development zone. <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.