China Wants Its People in the Cities

Commercial and residential buildings stand in the Luohu district of Shenzhen, China, on Dec. 18, 2013 Photograph by Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Thirty-five years ago, when paramount leader Deng Xiaoping launched gaige kaifang, or “reform and opening,” China was a much more agricultural country, with less than a fifth of its people living in cities. Since then hundreds of millions of rural residents have left the countryside, many seeking jobs in the export-oriented factories and construction sites that Deng’s policy promoted.

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