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China Vows to Promote Coordinated Development in Urbanization

China will strive to harmonize economic growth, environmental protection and urban development in the urbanization process, especially in the coming 20 years, an official said here Wednesday.


Wang Guangtao, minister of construction, made the remark at the International Forum on Urban Development, which opened in Beijing Wednesday.


Urbanization progress should be made in a humanistic, comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable manner, Wang said.


Wang urged Chinese municipal governments to explore and make use of natural resources in a rational way, exert efforts to preserve cultural resources and to harmonize the economic growth, development of human beings, natural resources and environment.


Wang highlighted the co-development of metropolises and medium-and small-sized cities, saying the big cities should play a leading role in promoting the urbanization of city-intensive areas.


The urbanization of China's vast rural area could help to create jobs for laid-off rural labor force, Wang said.


With the fast growth of the economy, China has made great achievements in its urban construction and development in recent years.


Statistics show that, currently, 70 percent of China's industrial output and GDP and 80 percent of China's tax revenue come from the urban areas.


Chinese people's living level has greatly improved in recent years, and by 2002, the average occupancy area for each urban resident had reached 22.8 square meters. More than 80 percent of urban families own their own houses.


The Chinese government has kept increasing the investment in urban infrastructure construction in recent years. From 1998 to 2001, China completed 731.1 billion yuan (about US$88.3 billion) in fixed asset investment, nearly 5.7 percent of the country's total fixed asset investment in those years.


In 2002, China accomplished fixed asset investment of about 311.9 billion yuan (about US$37.68 billion), surging 32.6 percent over that of the previous year.


At present, China's water supply coverage has reached 77.85 percent, the urban sewage water treatment rate has neared 40 percent, and the garbage treatment rate has hit 54.24 percent.


Along with the fast urban development, China also paid much attention to the protection of its historical and cultural relics as well as its scenic resources.


According to Wang, China has greatly improved its urbanization level from 10.6 percent in 1949 to 17.92 percent in 1978, and finally to 39.1 percent in 2002. Currently, there are a total of 662 cities and 20,358 towns in China, with nearly 500 million residents living in cities and towns.


Wang noted that despite the fast growth of China's urban areas, there are still some problems influencing the progress of urbanization, such as improper economic structure, weak competition in Chinese cities, low employment rate and pressure on the environment and natural resources, which should be gradually resolved in future.


(Xinhua News Agency October 30, 2003)


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