The blistering pace of development in China ensures
there are no shortages of dazzling statistics and facts about the middle
kingdom. The latest to attract my attention was a report in today’s Financial Times that announced
that China’s urban dwellers now outnumbered the rural population. At the end of
2010 49.95% of its population lived in cities. By the end of 2011 this had
risen to 51.27%. At some point in 2011 China reached the urban tipping point,
joining many others around the world.
The world reached a similar tipping point in 2008 (according to this report by the UN) when the earth’s urban population made up more
than 50% for the first time. This is another step along a process that started
with Britain’s majority urban population in 1851, and developed through Europe,
North America and South America.
The next major population centre to become majority
urban will be India. This is forecast to occur by 2025, but could be much
sooner if the current rate of demographic shift is matched in years to come.