China’s financial hub of Shanghai will limit its population to 25 million people by 2035 as part of a quest to manage “big city disease”, authorities have said.
The State Council said on its website late on Monday the goal to control the size of the city was part of Shanghai’s masterplan for 2017-2035, which the government body had approved.
“By 2035, the resident population in Shanghai will be controlled at around 25 million and the total amount of land made available for construction will not exceed 3,200 square kilometres,” it said.
State media has defined “big city disease” as arising when a megacity becomes plagued with environmental pollution, traffic congestion and a shortage of public services, including education and medical care.
But some experts doubt the feasibility of the plans, with one researcher at a Chinese government thinktank describing the scheme as “unpractical and against the social development trend”.
Migrant workers and the city’s poor would suffer the most, predicted Liang Zhongtang last year in an interview with state media, when Shanghai’s target was being drafted.
The government set a similar limit for Beijing in September, declaring the city’s population should not exceed 23 million by 2020. Beijing had a population of 21.5 million in 2014. Officials also want to reduce the population of six core districts by 15% compared with 2014 levels.
To help achieve this goal authorities said in April some government agencies, state-owned companies and other “non-core” functions of the Chinese capital would be moved to a newly created city about 100 kilometres south of Beijing.
An exact date for when those offices will have to move has not been set, but Beijing officials have already begun reshaping the city’s population.
Tens of thousands of migrant workers were evicted from their homes beginning in November, after authorities launches a 40-day crackdown on unsafe buildings in the wake of a fire.
Many of China’s biggest cities also face surging house prices, stirring fears of a property bubble. Beijing and Shanghai have enacted strict rules on who can purchase property and the two cities are the most vulnerable if prices begin to tumble.
Shanghai had a permanent population of 24.15 million at the end of 2015, the official Xinhua news agency said last year.
The city has also said it would intensify efforts to protect the environment and historic sites as part of its masterplan.