China is pushing ahead with a sweeping plan to move 250 million rural residents into newly constructed towns and cities over the next dozen years — a transformative event that could set off a new wave of growth or saddle the country with problems for generations to come. The government, often by fiat, is replacing small rural homes with high-rises, paving over vast swaths of farmland and drastically altering the lives of rural dwellers. So large is the scale that the number of brand-new Chinese city dwellers will approach the total urban population of the United States — in a country already bursting with megacities.
China’s motivation is straightforward. Grow the economy. The intended and unintended consequences are inconceivable.
My only hope is that their success metrics position well-being equal to economic indicators. At the end of the day, it’s a design opportunity fraught with unprecedented sociological and anthropological implications. A macro level case study applicable to every effort of the urbanization of 7 billion people on the planet.