China has selected southwestern Chongqing and Chengdu as pilot reform cities targeting coordinated rural and urban development through reforms in all sectors, official sources said on Saturday.
A document issued by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner, urged the two cities to take the initiatives in pushing forward comprehensive reforms in order to achieve coordinated and balanced development between urban and rural areas.
The NDRC also asked the two cities to lay out their detailed plans for the experimental areas as soon as possible.
The State Council, or the cabinet, has approved the establishment of the pilot reform cities, it said.
"The selection of the two pilot cities is necessary for us to explore a coordinated urban and rural development model in central and western China," said Yang Weimin, an official with the NDRC.
"The final aim of coordinated rural and urban development is to make rural farmers and migrant workers able to enjoy the same rights, public services and living conditions as urban residents do," Yang said.
They are just two more pilot reform cities following southern Shenzhen, eastern Shanghai's Pudong New Area and northern Tianjin's Binhai New Area.
China has seen rapid economic growth since it began the reform and opening up policies in 1978, but a wide income gap between rural and urban areas also arises.
The per capita net income of Chinese farmers was 3,587 yuan (US$471) last year, while the per capita disposable income of urban residents was 11,759 yuan, about 3.2 times that of farmers.
As two major cities in western China, Chongqing has a population of 31 million, 80 percent of whom are in rural areas, while Chengdu has 11 million people, including a six-million rural population.
In Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, per capita net income of farmers was 4,905 yuan (US$645), while that of urban residents was 2.6 times that of farmers.
The two pilot cities have pledged to carry out reforms in such areas as household registration systems, land management, social security and government administration.
(Xinhua News Agency June 10, 2007)