Beijing’s economic development is facing serious threats from overpopulation which has strained the capital city’s management on transport, water and even traffic systems, making it necessary for the government to mount a plan that’ll see over 2 million residents kicked out by 2020.
Image shows a busy street in Beijing.
About 21.7 million people are estimated to be living in Beijing and the number is ever-increasing with families, jobseekers and expatriates flocking to the city on daily basis.
A report compares the situation in Beijing as ” a city housing the equivalent of an entire population of Australia [24 million] in an area about the size of Victoria which is just a state in Australia”.
The analysis above proves a fact, Beijing has hit its breaking point.
As a measure towards keeping the population growth in check, Beijing’s leaders are shutting down businesses and hoping people will follow under the government’s 5-year plan to deal with pollution rates, traffic jams and water supply. Yet this seem to be a bigger problem to residents who can’t imagine life outside Beijing.
Dou Shuling, deputy director of the Population and Family Planning Committee of Beijing’s Xicheng District said at a news briefing that “50,000 to 100,000 people in Xicheng District are expected to be relocated”.
Image shows people swimming at a pool on a hot summer afternoon.
Meanwhile, there are 1.34 million people with registered permanent residence in Xicheng District.
Dou admitted that the relocation work will proceed slowly as many residents are reluctant to leave their homes, despite the fact that many of the homes are nearly inhabitable.
“The district government will conduct a survey to get the residents’ opinions on the relocation efforts. For example, we want to know what size they desire for their next home, or how much compensation they would consider to be fair,” Dou said, adding that “the government is encouraging residents to move to newly-built communities in the Daxing and Changping districts.”
The economic and social development plan, published earlier this year, is the first time the city has ‘drawn a red line through its population’, according to China Daily.
Broadly, the plan is to cut population and boost infrastructure, the head of Beijing’s planning. Lu Yan said.
Besides the overpopulation, the city also faced other three major pains: traffic congestion, high home prices and a worsening ecological environment, Mr Lu said.
Traffic jams in the city stretch for three hours, and there is now a heavy-handed push to cap the population at 23 million and shrink the urban centre by 15 per cent by 2020, pushing out about two million people, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Image shows post-graduate students lined up to take entrance exam.
Since last year, the Beijing government has started its push to send businesses to the province of Hebei, about 250km away, forcibly closing down businesses to do so.
About 150 markets have been shut by the city’s leaders, which aims to have all ‘wholesale’ or ‘low-end’ markets out of the city centre by 2020.
Another 174 factories have been relocated since the start of 2016, and Mr Lu has indicated the pace is set to pick up, saying he wants a drop in Beijing’s population by the end of the year.
Hebei has long been pinpointed by city planners, economists and officials as an option to relieve Beijing as a city groaning under the pressure.
Traffic is almost at a standstill: rush hour for the city’s 5.6 million cars lasts three hours on a normal working day.
In the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, many factories were relocated to Hebei to ease pollution concerns in the city, the steel mills now a testament to that area’s growing population, as well as its escalating pollution levels.
Traffic jam in China.
And many Beijing locals are quietly fighting the moves to push them to relocate.
Some business owners whose markets have been shut down opt to sell their goods online rather than move to Hebei. Some have mounted legal challenges to the closures.
Others, if they find the power and water cut off where they used to trade, they just move elsewhere in the city.
Image shows Beijing traffic jam at its worse.
Among them is Ms Ning, who told The Washington Post she had no interest in relocating her business, and lifestyle.
She has been able to secure a Beijing ‘hukou’ the registration document which aligns people’s social benefits to their place of birth — for her teenage son, giving him the right to be educated and receive healthcare in Beijing.
“My whole family is here. My home is here,” she said.
“I am not going anywhere.”