If all goes to plan, China will have moved 250 million people — equivalent to the entire population of Indonesia — into its burgeoning megacities by 2026.
The move lies at the heart of the “National New-type Urbanization Plan,” a program launched in 2014 that expands existing cities by gobbling up rural farming communities on the fringes.
The goal is to make China better at making and selling its own goods instead of relying on shipping clothes and electronics overseas to make money.
But as photographs of the transition reveal, sometimes the real cost of building highways, bridges, and rail lines threatens people’s entire way of life.
Henan province, China, 1867. Already at 363 million people, the country was poised for a boom.
Within a century, China started to export hundreds of billions worth of electronics goods and manufacturing equipment. Shanghai’s budding financial district is seen below.
China Stringer Network/Reuters
In 1995, the limits of China’s expanding infrastructure were revealed during a massive flood. Officials at the time said simple flaws, like leaky pipes, could end up costing the country billions every year. The cause of the flood was traced back to a water main burst.
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