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Global games help local renewal
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Qingdao is setting world standards for hi-tech and eco-friendly facilities at its Olympic Sailing Center, but many of its residents are seeing local, not global, benefits.

"The municipal government has put a great deal of investment in reconstruction of rundown and aging buildings in the old town so residents can enjoy the fruits brought about by rapid economic development in Qingdao," said Zhang Jun, deputy director of Qingdao Municipal Construction Committee.

The city started reconstruction work in 2000. To date 296 structures with 237,000 sq m of combined floor space have been renovated and 18 residential areas have been landscaped, benefiting more than 14,000 households.

Renovation work this year will include 120 apartment buildings that have 5,458 households, Zhang said.

The government has also allocated 180 million yuan for modernization of 3,300 city street blocks that will include resurfaced roads, new street lights and drainage and sewer pipes.

Extensive efforts have also been made to renew the ecosystem and improve sanitation. A total of 1.2 billion yuan has been spent since 2000 to dredge waterways and plant trees along their banks. As well, illegal buildings have been demolished and 16,000 tons of garbage has been removed.

In 2006, the city won a National Model Prize for Residential Environment.

In 2007, nine old neighborhoods and nine villages in the city were refurbished, with 1.18 million sq m of structural space demolished and 21,000 households relocated.

The government will invest 82 million yuan this year on low-rent apartments for more than 9,300 households that currently have per capita living space under 10 sq m.

Another project costing 500 million yuan to provide 3,000 rental apartments has broken ground and will be finished by January 2009.

The government has also taken measures to control the rapid increase in prices of new apartments. The rate of price increases in the city ranked 35th last year among 70 cities throughout the country. By the end of 2007, 2.48 million sq m of affordable housing was under construction.

A city demonstration project to design and build housing using new technology and materials in cooperation with Haier, Dongcheng International and Shengshi Jingyuan combines environmental and energy conservation to build eco-friendly residential districts.

(China Daily March 20, 2008)

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