Hangzhou Crowned Safest City

Traditionally regarded as "Heaven on Earth" and one of the most beautiful cities in China, this capital of East China's Zhejiang Province continues to attract tourists and was recently ranked as the safest city on the mainland.

From February to April this year, the Ministry of Public Security conducted on-the-spot investigations of 26 provincial capital cities and four municipalities around the country on their public order and security.

The results of the investigations, which were released this week, showed 95 per cent of the residents surveyed in Hangzhou felt satisfied with the city's public order and security.

This ranked the first among the 30 cities inspected.

"To tell you the truth, this is totally beyond my expectations," said Sheng Jifang, director of the municipal bureau of public security.

"It's not easy, as 'satisfied' really involves many aspects," he said.

According to investors, the city owes the satisfying result to changes in the composition of the city's population.

Hongzhou's efforts to attract more talent recently have led to an influx of well-educated people and the educated make up much of the population.

"This is the direct reason we have a low crime rate," said Sheng.

Hangzhou has an urban population of 3 million, of which 400,000 are temporary residents. The city also boasts of several millions of domestic and foreign tourists each year.

Regardless of the shifting numbers of people in the city, statistics from the municipal planning committee show the city's crime rate has been on the decline since 1998.

Last year, the crime rate dropped 9.18 per cent from 1999 levels.

Investors said the city's healthy economy, which led to high levels of employment, also contributed to its good social order.

"Also with the quickening pace of urbanization, more attention is being paid to settling workers from the countryside and other parts of the country," said Sheng.

The city's safety has helped it lure much more investment than expected. By the end of 2000, about 453 enterprises had settled in the city from other parts of China, managing a total business volume of US$3.2 billion.

Last year Hangzhou vowed to become the best city of the country to live in.

"Providing residents with a safe environment should be considered a key element for achieving this goal," said Sheng.

However, the director also expressed anxiety, as the survey showed two problems which greatly concerned local residents, bicycle thieves and pickpockets on the bus.

(China Daily 07/13/2001)