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Urban Environment Stressed

Senior officials yesterday urged increased efforts to protect urban environment and natural resources during the rapid sprawl of China's urbanization.

Minister of Construction Wang Guangtao said the Chinese government will introduce an evaluation system for the natural and living environment of its cities and towns to ensure that a healthier and more balanced urbanization process takes place, but did not give a specific date on which this will come into force.


The new system will be designed to evaluate the state of both the natural and living environments - water and gas supplies, sewage and refuse treatment, drainage systems, urban green belts, biological diversity, heating systems, energy, public transport and the protection of cultural relics.


Wang made the remarks at a three-day international forum on urban development organized by the China Association of Mayors.


Due to the lack of an environmental and infrastructure awareness, some Chinese cities and towns are facing challenges both in terms of international natural environmental and living standards despite the booming economy.


"We hope to harmonize economic and social development in a sustainable way," Wang said.


Wang's views were echoed by experts and officials at the forum which will conclude tomorrow.


David Gatton, a representative of the United States Conference of Mayors said the forum provided a platform for the exchange of experiences in the areas of urban planning, clean technologies, communication infrastructure and housing development.


"There are monumental tasks in building sustainable cities and we must learn from each other," Gatton told the forum.


At the workshop, Niu Wenyuan, head of the sustainable development strategy research team under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said China had devised ways to cope with urban sprawl with the consolidation of scores of cities into specific economic hubs.


Planners have drawn up a framework involving three metropolitan areas, seven economic belts and a number of major cities sharing common characteristics.


Niu said 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 Bohai Bay, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta. They will serve as economic centers boosting the development of their surrounding areas.


He said these metropolitan areas play a very important role in the national and regional economy.


(China Daily October 30, 2003)

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