Some 300 million Chinese now living in rural areas -- the equivalent of the entire population of the United States -- will move into cities in the coming 15 to 20 years, said a senior Chinese official Wednesday.
A woman assesses a model of a building in a real estate exhibition in Dalian, Liaoning province, in this July 2009 file photo.
The fast pace of urbanization will create at least 1 trillion yuan in annual investment opportunities in building water supply, waste treatment, heating and other public utilities in the cities, said Xu Zhongwei, deputy policy director of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.
"Such a big urban population will result in huge market demand," Xu told China Daily Wednesday.
China is undergoing rapid urbanization, with its rate increasing from 17 percent 30 years ago to 45 percent at the end of year, Xu said. More than 600 million of China's 1.3 billion people already live in cities.
"This is an incredible speed and I am quite proud that we didn't see a huge increase of slums in the cities during the process," Xu said.
In contrast, urbanization in other transitional economies, such as India, Brazil and South Africa, resulted in many slum areas.
China's urbanization rate will increase by nearly 1 percent annually during the coming 15 to 20 years, which means that China will urbanize 300 million rural people during the period, Xu said.
However, compared with international average standards, Chinese cities are extremely dense, Xu said.