In July, the Chinese government announced an initiative to move 250 million (not a misprint!) people from rural areas to cities over the next two decades. The relocation project has the ham-handed appearance associated with other grand social-engineering projects of China’s past, such as the disastrous “Great Leap Forward.”
It seems obvious that Chinese authorities have not made any effort to generate sufficient jobs for those they want to move. The country is already bedeviled by tens of millions of unemployed, constantly seeking temporary work. Stated reasons for relocation include a need to boost Chinese development by generating internal demand, which is supposedly greater in cities. The project is likely to create enormous stresses on the population. This in turn may either concentrate Chinese attention on internal security, or else generate nationalist aggressiveness as a way of overcoming that stress. If it is the first, then resources that might otherwise go to naval expansion may be more urgently needed by the army and the dedicated security apparatus.