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Urban push strategy has support of World Bank

Updated: 2012-11-30 02:44
By DING QINGFEN in Mianyang, Sichuan ( China Daily)

The World Bank is committed to supporting the nation's unprecedented urbanization push, and looks forward to input from China on a major report on urban living, its chief said on Thursday, one day after meeting Vice-Premier Li Keqiang.

Urbanization is also a major part of the "knowledge hub" project that China and the World Bank agreed to work on this week. This hub will facilitate collaboration among Chinese and international experts on important development issues.

China is "advanced in its urbanization strategy," Jim Yong Kim, World Bank president said in an interview with China Daily.

China and the World Bank have agreed to undertake a major project on urbanization, which is "not just for China, but also for the world," said Kim. "Many developing countries can learn so much from China's urbanization."

The global financial institution will continue to offer any assistance in terms of loans and fostering an investment environment in China, Kim said.

Kim met with Vice-Premier Li in Beijing on Wednesday.

Li said advancing urbanization is a priority amid the transformation of the economic growth model. Li also said China is willing to learn from global experiences and to partner the World Bank in a joint study on the subject, hopefully involving universities and research bodies worldwide.

"We expect to turn the study on urbanization into a flagship project representing cooperation (between China and the World Bank)," said Li.

Kim agreed. "There are many things for China to tackle" to maintain sustainable economic growth, "but Li has extremely insightful views on urbanization when he said urbanization is about services, food security, healthcare, education and retirement, and about combining all these''.

Kim started his four-day visit on Tuesday, his first to China since he took office as head of the World Bank in July.

Urbanization is a key development program that Li has been continuously pushing forward over the last few years. He believes it is where China's greatest potential lies for powering domestic consumption and economic growth.

In his report to the 18th National Party Congress this month, President Hu Jintao also said China is strongly dedicated to transforming its economic growth model to one driven by domestic consumption, while improving livelihoods and the environment.

Li told Kim that despite China being the second-largest economy, its growth is far from balanced and there is a wide gap between rural and urban areas.

"When we advance urbanization, we will create a higher level of industrialization, use of information technology, and modernization of agriculture," Li said.

This requires the nation to tackle a series of tasks, including security in grain supply, energy efficiency and further reforms, Li added.

"To implement these tasks, we will have to understand the global vision and experience," and the World Bank will be an excellent source, he said.

About 75 percent of the country's gross domestic product is generated in its 120 largest cities, and 350 million rural residents are expected to move into the cities over the next 20 years.

The number of urban-dwelling residents has grown in the last three decades from 170 million to 700 million, but this figure is still short of the 80 percent found in developed economies.

Kim said he agreed with Li that there is not any ready model for China in building a modern economy for 1.3 billion people.

"If China succeeds and follows the right way, both the Chinese people and people worldwide will reap benefits," Li said.

The knowledge hub will also provide mechanisms for sharing China's innovative solutions and experience to the rest of the world, Li said.

Solutions bank

"Countries like China will have a major role" in the World Bank's transformation into a solutions bank, as "we can help China find their own solutions shape its future, provide services and infrastructure", in ways like the knowledge hub, said Kim.

Kim has proposed to build the World Bank into a "solutions" bank, an organization that aims to reduce poverty and to facilitate clients in applying "evidence-based, non-ideological solutions to development challenges''.

Kim, a Harvard-trained medical doctor and anthropologist, succeeded Robert Zoellick as the president of the World Bank, and is also the first scientist to head it.

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