Latest research on Beijing's population forecasts it will reach 20 million in 2020.
Although researchers may differ on the exact figure of the capital's future population, the report released by the Population Institute of Peking University over the weekend, echoes the results of previous studies by endorsing the fact that the capital will become more crowded in 10 or 20 years.
The influx of migrant people will continue to be the driving force. In recent years, more than 430,000 migrants arrive at the capital's doorstep annually.
Meanwhile, a separate figure released by a municipal department on the aging population has painted an even more worrisome picture: The number of senior citizens will reach its peak of 6.5 million in 2050. At that time one of every three citizens will be older than 60.
These figures require serious consideration by the city's administrators.
From a macro perspective, the authorities will have to rack their brains even further on how to achieve rapid social and economic development with limited resources, less energy consumption and little damage to our environment.
It is also their responsibility to make the capital a pleasant place to live in for all residents including migrants and the elderly.
Efforts in this regard will be challenging. The rising population will make many of its already conspicuous problems even worse such as environment pollution and traffic congestion.
It is heartening to see that the capital's administrators are moving toward providing faster and more convenient public transport, improving air quality and making the city greener.
In the meantime, the accelerated aging problem also calls for early and better preparatory work so as to ensure every citizen has a comfortable life after retirement.
Last but not the least, as one out of every five families in Beijing is a migrant family, the city needs to improve its management of this sector of the population. They need more equal opportunities in employment, education and housing.
The city, to its credit, is recognized as being one of the most benevolent in the country toward migrant workers.
(China Daily October 23, 2007)