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By Chi-Chu Tschang and Dexter Roberts
China is undergoing an urbanization the scale of which the world has never seen. By 2025, China will have added 350 million urban residents to its population (more than the entire population of the U.S. today), and five years later will have a total city population of more than 1 billion. That will boost the portion of its gross domestic product produced by cities from 75% today to around 95%, estimates the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI).
To house all those new urban residents (240 million of whom will be migrants from the countryside), China will pave 5 billion square meters of road, add up to 170 mass transit systems, and build 40 billion square meters of floor space. All told, China will have 221 cities with more than 1 million residents, and eight megacities, each with a population of more than 10 million. The Chinese government is hoping to pull off the unprecedented urban transformation with a special emphasis on ensuring stable and equitable cities, said delegates at the World Urban Forum held in early November by U.N. Habitat in Nanjing. "Building harmonious cities is our vision," said Jiang Hongkun, the mayor of Nanjing.