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Half Of China's Population To Be Urban By 2010

Current level of urbanization is 41%.

Fifty percent of China's population of more than 1.3 billion people will live in cities within four years as the nation's urbanization drive steams ahead. By 2020 the number will move to 60%, posing big challenges for the cities, Xinhua news agency cited Chou Baoxing, vice minister of construction, as saying.

China's fast-paced urbanization is leading to environmental problems, traffic congestion and an inadequate social safety network for migrants, Chou said. "The three important yardsticks for judging if the urbanization drive is healthy are the level of protection of energy and other natural resources, respect for local history and culture and care for the low-income groups," Chou told an urbanization forum in Shanghai.

Currently, 41% of Chinese live in urban areas, Xinhua said, citing Shi Nan, a leading official at the Urban Planning Society of China. China's rural population was 745.44 million at the end of last year, or 57% of the total, with 562.12 million people living in urban areas, according to National Bureau of Statistics figures.

Rural Chinese dwellers have in recent years flooded the nation's big cities in search of better livelihoods and a piece of the nation's booming economic pie. Up to 150 million migrant workers work in urban areas, often toiling in menial jobs.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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