When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Beijing officials plan to raise public transportation costs to “let prices play a role in population regulation”
Beijing officials plan to raise public transportation costs to “let prices play a role in population regulation”
Lan Fang

BEIJING — China's central government has imposed new requirements to severely limit the population in the country's "mega-cities." In the booming capital, whose population has topped 20 million, the focus has been on using economic regulations to stem the rising number of inhabitants.

“Controlling the population by controlling business categories” is one of the key new policies, and includes relocating outside the city limits sectors such as the production of furniture, building materials, garment and small commodity wholesaling.

Another measure that will affect even more people is “controlling the population by controlling housing.” A series of campaigns to crack down on illegal group renting, as well as illegal suburban house construction, will be intensified.

Beijing officials also plan to raise public transportation costs, such as subway and bus fares, as well as other price hikes to local services such as water and electricity. The stated goal is to “let prices play a role in population regulation” by raising living costs, and “squeezing out a part of the floating population.”

Meanwhile the Beijing government has once again modified its target of population control and set a goal of maintaining the capital’s permanent population at around 21.8 million by 2015. This means that over the next two years the city’s residential population is not to grow by more than 650,000 persons.

So, can this series of measures actually work? And more broadly, is it the role of the government to regulate population so closely?

First things first

Lu Jiehua, a professor of sociology at Peking University, reckons that Beijing’s population and shortage of resources are indeed acute, and it is commonly acknowledged that its population has to be controlled. However, the authority has to be clear about the limits of its own role.

[rebelmouse-image 27087809 alt="""" original_size="500x250" expand=1]

Beijing's goal: not more than 21.8 million by 2015 — Photo: See ming-Lee

In Lu’s view, the government ought to first determine its economic and industrial policy before taking aim at population control — not the other way around. “The authority has to decide the industrial layout, and let the market determine the jobs available. And then individuals will decide whether they are to stay in Beijing or leave.”

Lu also notes that in its 2004 City Plan, Beijing positioned itself as “China’s capital city, a world city, a famous cultural city and a city comfortable for living.” It is neither a financial center, nor an economic center. Thus, Beijing should effectively move out of the many economic functions it currently hosts.

Finally, the government ought to acknowledge that population is not purely a burden. “For a city to develop, to be dynamic and to have vitality, it needs people," Lu says. "If all Beijing cares about is how to reduce its population, and then everybody leaves — high-end and low-end workers alike — how is it going to achieve any economic development?”

Lu notes that even while the Beijing government talks about using economic incentives to control the population, it has mostly relied on strict limits to housing and residency permits in an attempt to push out temporary migrant workers.

“A city’s needs are pluralistic,” Lu notes, “even the so-called high-end population needs services from middle and low-end laborers while the latter also require the basic needs of shelter and food for themselves."

And Lu worries that this new round of population control will again have the greatest impact on low-income groups. Meanwhile, the living costs for all in Beijing — from the migrant population to the labor burdens of business are all going to go up.

“This goes against the spirit of inclusiveness that Beijing claims to have.”

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ