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China's urbanization could learn from foreign experience

Updated: 2013-12-18 11:20
( Xinhua)

BEIJING - Urbanization is the road China must take in its modernization drive, offering an important way to address rural problems, a statement released after a Chinese central urbanization work conference said.

As the highest-level meeting the Chinese leadership has convened on urbanization, the two-day conference, which ended Friday, has attracted worldwide attention and received valuable suggestions.

Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao reported the meeting signaled next year would mark the start of China's new urbanization process and relevant reforms would be implemented successively.

The conference statement said efforts would be made to build a diverse and sustainable funding mechanism for the drive, and private investment in and operation of urban public infrastructure would be encouraged.

"It is great news for private enterprises like Pacific Group," Yan Jiehe, founder of China Pacific Construction Group told Xinhua. "This means non-public investment has the opportunity in the future to be fully involved in China's urbanization, and share risk with the public sector to lift the quality and efficiency of the process."

In the United States, more and more private capital has been introduced into urban construction in recent years in the face of reduced revenue and public financing at all levels of American government.

"The core of public and private joint investment is sharing both risks and benefits, and the key to success is carrying out detailed study in both public and private sectors," David Zelenok, chief innovation officer of the city of Centennial in the US state of Colorado, told Xinhua.

Overseas analysts also saw the meeting's emphasis on reforming the local government revenue system as an important factor in steadily driving forward the urbanization process.

Stephen K. Sham, mayor of the city of Alhambra in Los Angeles County, said federal government tax rebates for local authorities, a major source of US cities' revenue, was strictly limited to funding infrastructure, ensuring funds could not be misused, and this could be adopted by China.

Edward Tieh-Yeu Huang, a former Community Redevelopment Agency expert with the City of Los Angeles, lauded the meeting's proposal to macro-manage urbanization, especially its emphasis on consistent city planning, listening to public opinion, and respecting experts' advice.

He said US local governments usually held public hearings to canvass opinion and proposals were often modified repeatedly before being adopted.

Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), warned that China, with its current fast pace of urbanization, should try to avoid what Latin American countries had experienced, such as pollution, traffic congestion, huge divisions of wealth, lack of medical and educational resources and other "city diseases."