Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks at a press conference after the closing meeting of the first session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 17, 2013. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Vice Premiers Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yandong, Wang Yang and Ma Kai met the press and answered questions here on Sunday. (Xinhua/Chen Jianli)
BEIJING, March 17 (Xinhua) -- China's Premier Li Keqiang pledged Sunday to advance urbanization in a steady, active and prudent way, saying that urbanization is an inevitable trend.
"Urbanization is a complex and big project that will trigger profound changes in economy and society. It needs to be supported by integrated reforms in many different areas," Li told a press conference after the conclusion of the annual legislative session.
"We need to overcome various problems in the course of urbanization," he said.
The premier said that urbanization will unleash enormous consumption and investment demand and create many job opportunities and it is also the aspiration of rural residents in China.
"More directly, it can enrich farmers and benefit the nation," he said.
In his first press conference as premier of the world's most populous country, Li recalled his experience of visiting the countryside in the past, citing farmers as saying that it had been a "dream" for rural residents to live the same life as their urban counterparts.
"Now, urbanization has opened the door for the dream to come true," he said.
In the course of urbanization, those farmers who want to migrate to cities can engage themselves in secondary and tertiary industry, and for those who want to stay in the villages, they can be engaged in farming operations of an appropriate scale to enrich themselves, he said.
Currently, there are about 260 million migrant workers in cities and more than 10 million farmers are migrating to cities every year, Li said.
"What we stress is a new type of urbanization that puts the people in the heart. It needs the support of job creation and provision of services," he said.
The new type of urbanization is not building sprawling cities, he noted. It needs a coordinated development of large, medium-sized and small cities, and requires the authorities in eastern, central and western regions advance urbanization in light of their own conditions, he said.
"We need to prevent the urban malaise and avoid the situation in which high-rises coexist with shanty towns," he said.
The government, within its term, plans to help over 10 million households move out of different shanty towns, Li said, adding that the renovation of shanty towns can help solve the problem of dual structure within cities and lower the threshold of urbanization.
"What is more important, the new type of urbanization must go hand in hand with agricultural modernization. We must ensure that China's farmland remains at or above the red line of 120 million hectares, guarantee grain security and protects the interests of farmers," he said.