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Land plan to preserve countryside
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Extra funding is to be provided to encourage people who live in places where development is forbidden to migrate to urban areas, in a bid to preserve China's countryside.

Nature reserves, World Heritage Sites, national scenery attractions and forest parks will be listed as "forbidden zones" where residential and industrial development will not be allowed under the new national land-planning program.

Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan said the central government would provide more money to help people in those regions migrate to places where industrialization and urbanization are allowed.

The extra cash comes as the government draws "red lines" across rural land, ruling out development to ensure grain security for future generations.

After the national blueprint has been drawn up, provincial governments will be given more freedom to plan their own development projects, provided they run in accordance with the national plan.

The central government will have finished defining the regions and what they can be used for by the end of the year, said Zeng.

"The purpose of this plan is to keep check on the rampant spread of industrialization and ensure development only takes place in certain regions," Zeng told a national televised conference attended by dozens of Cabinet ministers and provincial governors on Monday.

The land will be divided into four kinds of regions - those where urbanization is "prioritized", "encouraged", "limited" and "forbidden", said Ma Kai, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission.

For example, high-tech projects and service sector industries should be priorities in coastal areas.

While manufacturing bases and agriculture should be encouraged in the central regions, northeast China and some parts of western China.

Ma said the plan was aimed at promoting the nation's sustainable development, which is expected to be high on the agenda at the 17th Communist Party of China (CPC) National Congress next month.

In an interview with China Daily on Monday, Pan Yue, vice-minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, called the land-planning program "a landmark" in China's efforts to achieve sustainable development and build a resource-saving society.

"We have waited for a plan like this for ages," said Pan.

(China Daily September 25, 2007)

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