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3-D Framework Draft for Urbanization
Planners have devised a third way to cope with urban sprawl in China with the consolidation of scores of cities into specific economic hubs.

They have drawn up a three-dimensional framework involving a trio of central metropolitan areas, seven economic belts and a number of central cities with common features.

Niu Wenyuan, head of the research team for the sustainable development strategy under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said the three metropolitan areas have already been formed along China's eastern coast in the northern, central and southern regions.

The three metropolitan areas are the group of cities around the Bohai Bay, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta. They will serve as economic centers boosting the development of their surrounding areas.

The suggestion submitted by Niu was included in the China Urban Development Report (2001-02) compiled recently by nearly 100 experts and scholars.

They said the metropolitan area plays a very important role in the national and regional economy.

Published in Beijing last week, the report is the first to focus on urban development.

He Zuoxiu, of the CASS, said China should also develop some short-distance economic belts connecting neighboring cities, such as that which exists between Shanghai and Nanjing, the capital city of Jiangsu Province.

A number of centrally located cities should also be selected for their distinctive economic or tourism-related features, said the academic.

These areas would be inhabited by more than half of the Chinese population, with 80 percent of national economy, 90 percent of national industry output value and 95 percent of China's total trade volume produced there.

At the launch ceremony of the report last week, Jiang Zhenghua, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said China's urbanization still lags behind that of developed countries.

The Chinese mainland has 662 cities and more than 20,000 towns, with a combined population totaling more than 480 million.

(China Daily December 24, 2002)

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