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Beijing's goal: 18 million people by 2020
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-08 15:25

Facing increasing pressure of resources restriction, Beijing, the Chinese capital, plans to slow down its population growth in order to make the city more life friendly, according to a newly revised city plan for 2004-20.

The long-term plan, a fundamental document to guide the city's development in the next 16 years, says the city will try to keep its population within 18 million by 2020.

It means the city's annual population growth rate will be lowered to 1.4 per cent from the current 2.5 per cent.

So far, there are about 14.5 million people living in Beijing, 3 million of whom are outsiders without permanent residence registration in the city.

Experts have long appealed for the city's population to be kept in line with the capacity of its resources, involving land, energy and water.

For instance, Beijing is severely lacking in water. Its annual water availability per capita is less than 300 cubic metres, some one-32th of the international levels.

Some experts estimate that the city's water resources can only bear at most 17 to 18 million people.

Beijing has undergone rapid expansion that far exceeded expectation in the past decade.

According to the old city plan made in 1993, the city predicted 14 million residents by 2040. However, the target figure was reached last year, 37 years earlier than expected.

And the number of vehicles in the city exceeded 2.2 million by June this year, far higher than the 1.3 million set for 2010 by the old plan.

As a result, the city had to revise city plans early this year, and introduced the concept of "building a society suitable for living" for the first time.

Besides slowing down the population growth figures, the revised plan, made public on Saturday, stresses the role of "satellite towns" to alleviate pressure on central areas.

The city will build 11 "new towns" on its outskirts, among which, three towns - namely Tongzhou, Shunyi and Yizhuang in eastern Beijing - are the key places to where a large portion of population and industries will move.

The multi-centre city layout is a solution to the current arrangement of "concentric circles with one centre" which is blamed as the root cause for endless traffic jams in Beijing.

The downtown area, covering only 12 per cent of the city's area, now takes on nearly a fourth of the total traffic flow because 400-plus government organs and institutions are crowded into it.

Moving more population and industries out of the central urban area where many ancient buildings stand, the city will shift the old city's functions to cultural entertainment and sightseeing.

The revised layout pays greater attention to the protection of the old city, which was the capital of five dynasties, beginning with the Liao Dynasty (916-1125) and ending with the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

According to the layout, the city will stop massive demolition and construction in the downtown area, and make more efforts to rehabilitate its historical face.

Public transit construction is another key point of the new plan.

According to the plan, at the urban area, more than half of the people going to another place will choose public transit means by 2020, much higher than the 27 per cent in 2000.

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