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Cities better planned, ecologically sound
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-15 22:23

Growing Chinese cities are becoming rationally planned and ecologically sound, the government said.

The Ministry of Construction said in an annual report Tuesday that investment on urban construction soared, roads have been widened and there is more green space. Meanwhile, water, heating and gas supplies were improved in 2003.

"In a world, we made frog-leap achievements in improving urban environments last year," said the report, issued every year in June to sum up China's urbanization process.

About 42.12 per cent of China's wasted water was treated in 2003.

By the end of 2003, there were 208,000 kilometres of urban roads covering 3.16 billion square metres.

Road coverage for average urban resident was about 9.34 square metres, which has increased by 1.47 square metres from 2002.

Urban planning experts thought the ministry's sum-up report was rational.

Chinese-American architect and businessman James Jao told China Daily that the achievements can be found even in less-developed western regions.

"Many officials even in county-level cities and towns have become increasingly aware of urban planning," said Jao, CEO of the US-based J.A.O. Design International.

But Jao said greening is still a problem in newly-developed urban areas.

He called for a more market-oriented approach and public participation in China's urban ecological improvement and development from State and regional level governments.

"It won't work in the long run if we merely rely on governments in the development of urban forestry," said Jao, adding that appropriately managed afforestation is not only a social welfare undertaking, but a long-term economic benefit as well.

Meanwhile, governments should work out more incentives to encourage people's participation in urban ecological improvement.

An increasing number of Chinese cities have realized the importance of sustainable development with China's rapid urbanization over the last 20 years.

Official statistics indicate that China now has more than 660 cities whose rapid development led to environmental problems such as air pollution and natural resource exhaustion.

However, the growing awareness of sustainable development has motivated a large number of cities to drum up efforts to improve the urban environment, said Jao.

Meanwhile, experts and officials showed concern that urban residential consumption of energy also rose dramatically due to the country's fast pace of urbanization and improved standards of living.

The ministry's statistics show that from 1978 to 2003, the level of urbanization in China increased from 17.92 per cent to 39.1 per cent. By the end of 2003, there were 660 cities and 20,600 towns in China with a combined population of 502 million.

A growing number of the urban residents have more spacious houses, more electronic consumer goods and cars, which push up the per-capita consumption of energy, said Vice-Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing.

Xinhua reported that the per-capita energy consumption for urban residents is 250 per cent more than that of their rural cousins.

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