Motion graphic critique: 250,000,000 people

The motion graphic I chose to critique is from an investigative piece in the NY Times, “China’s Great Uprooting: Moving 250 Million Into Cities.” The graphic itself can be seen here.

The piece and the graphic are about the Chinese government’s breathtakingly ambitious plan to migrate 250 million Chinese citizens from rural areas and farmlands into newly developed high rise cities over a span of 12-15 years.  The government’s reasoning seems to be based on trying to revitalize the Chinese economy by concentrating population areas and creating new mega-cities which will both be more productive, as well as creating new large consumer markets, as well as to wean farmers off from self-subsistence and the country off exports.  It is a massive and incredibly complex plan that is unprecedented.  While Western developed nations went through these migration changes to produce the economies they have today (going from rural, agrarian economies to industrialized efficient ones), those changes took place over centuries – not over the 12-15 years that China’s Communist Party is proposing.

The proposal is causing a lot of consternation among both economists and human rights watch groups, who are accusing the government of trying to “warehouse” its population into small easy to manage areas, as well as taking their homes and livelihoods away as farmlands are razed and converted into urban centers.

The graphic itself illustrates how large the migration is by showing how many major world cities would need to be counted to even reach 250 million people.  It passes over every major urban area in the United States and most of the major urban areas around the world – including New York, LA, London, and Tokyo.  It adds to the story by showing what a gargantuan undertaking a forced migration of 250 million people really is.  While China is known as the largest nation by population on the planet, and 250 million people wouldn’t seem too much in the scope of China’s population, once you compare it to how many major cities that equates to – and just how many people would be displaced under this policy – the scope is almost unbelievable.

I like graphics like this that gives a sense of size with comparison, as it visually tells a story that words are not as effective with at times.


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