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Plan to protect Three Gorges
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The State Council has approved the nation's first regional urban and rural development plan in the southwestern municipality of Chongqing.

The plan aims to develop Chongqing into a "central city" in Southwest China and promote more balanced ecological development of the Three Gorges reservoir area.

"The plan is of great importance to the environmental protection of the Three Gorges reservoir area," Jiang Yong, director of the Chongqing development plan bureau, said.

"One of the key elements in Chongqing's new development plan is to further our efforts to protect the environment of the reservoir area since the environment here has changed greatly due to the Three Gorges project and massive population relocation."

Under the plan, Chongqing until 2020 will give priority to the development of "one axis and two wings," or a downtown urban center and two new economic zones in the northeastern and southeastern areas.

Rural residents in the northeastern economic area, with the Three Gorges reservoir in the center, will be relocated to urban areas, Jiang said.

"By relocating more rural people into the urban areas and relocating industrial structure, we will promote sound and ecological development in the Three Gorges reservoir area."

Yi Yuanmu, vice-mayor of Chongqing, described the new plan as "a big move in integration of urban and rural areas".

Chongqing, which was approved by the State Council as a municipality in 1997, has witnessed relatively unbalanced development in rural and urban areas, because it has so much rural land.

"Under the new plan, urban space will be greatly expanded, and more urban facilities will be built to house more rural people," Yi said.

By 2020, Chongqing is expected to have about 31 million people, of which 21.6 million are urban residents. At present, rural residents in Chongqing have greatly outnumbered urban people, accounting for nearly two thirds of the total population.

(China Daily October 11, 2007)

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