New construction spurred by urban population growth. PHOTO BY TOM CHRISTENSEN.
Because of its agrarian nature and socialist control over cities, until the 1980s China’s level of urbanization remained low. Since then, rapid rural-urban migration and aggressive reclassification have quickly transformed China into an increasingly urban society. Urbanization, now seen as a tool for economic development, has given rise to problems of inequality, social stratification, environmental degradation, and loss of