In a remote part of Northeast China, thousands of villages have disappeared from the map. Their inhabitants, more than 600,000 farmers, have been instructed by the government to relocate to nearby towns and commute to their farms to work. By concentrating the dispersed rural population in a small number of urban cores, the government hopes to improve housing conditions and accessibility to services, stimulate economic development, and free up more land for farming. This paper analyzes this kind of urbanization, which is distinct from the much-studied city-centered urbanization and in situ urbanization in coastal China. In addition to the resettlement program, this urbanization process is driven by agricultural modernization and economic liberalization. Urbanization has produced a rural–urban hybrid settlement system where urban construction coexists with a mostly agrarian economy. Urbanization has also improved the livelihood of many rural households, but there are significant social, economic, and environmental challenges.
- Heilongjiang Reclamation Area