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China Speeds up Healthy Urbanization

As much as 92 percent of Chinese urban families should use cleaner natural gas, in stead of polluting coal, for fuel by 2005, according to the State Development Planning Commission (SDPC).

That is a top priority of the coming five years made public recently by the commission, Monday's China Daily reported.

Other priorities include developing urban economies, improving the environment and strengthening management of Chinese cities and towns.

All Chinese cities are required to cover 35 percent of its area in green space by the end of 2005. Furthermore, 45 percent of urban sewage will be processed and 70 big and medium-sized cities will meet European environmental standards for cleanliness.

Statistics show that there are now more than 660 cities and 20, 000 towns in China, up from 193 cities and 2,173 towns in 1978. China's urban population has grown from 170 million to 456 million.

The SDPC forecasts that in 2005, 35 percent of China will be urbanized, which means more than 10 million rural residents will move to cities each year. By 2010, city residents will account for 40 percent of the Chinese population.

The world's middle-income nations are 58 percent urban, while rich nations are 78 percent urban. China is currently 31 percent urban, according to Li Shantong, senior researcher with Development and Research Center under the State Council.

He said that China should speed up the number of cities and improve their services.

China's average gross domestic product (GDP) is about 850 US dollars per capita. Experts say that any country with a GDP average below 3,000 US dollars has significant room for healthy urbanization.

(Xinhua News Agency 08/13/2001)

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