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Plan intends to make life better for Beijingers
By Di Fang (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-18 08:59

The Chinese capital is to build itself into a "life-friendly city" that develops without harming resources or the environment, a new city plan for Beijing reveals.

The plan, which runs to 2020, is a fundamental document guiding the city's development over the next 15 years, and won approval from the State Council, China's cabinet, last week. It will replace a 1993 resolution.

The revised plan introduces the concept of "building a society suitable for living" as the city's development target for the first time, said Tan Xuxiang, a senior engineer with the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning.

"The previous plans merely took fast economic growth as the guiding principle, but now, it has turned to a harmony-orientated development that takes both resources and the environment into consideration," Tan said.

The new plan says the city will slow down its population growth in line with the capacity of its resources, land, energy and water.

As the new plan gives top priority to the needs of the people, the commission has conducted a massive survey among local residents on their top concerns for the city's future.

"It is the first time we have carried out a survey to solicit public opinion before a city plan is worked out," said Tan.

The 175-page survey shows that local residents are most worried about the city's environment and traffic conditions, and the difficulties of transferring between different modes of public transport.

"So we added a special chapter on the construction of communication hubs to the new plan to let people more easily transfer between different buses and metro lines without having to walk far," said Tan.

He said more than 200 scholars and 70 research institutions around the country have also participated in the revision.

City plans are traditionally worked out by small groups of local experts and decision-makers, behind closed doors.

"But the revision this time was open to public discussion and the process was much more transparent than before," said Tan.

When the plan was worked out and put on show at the Beijing City Planning Exhibition Hall between November 6 and 12, more than 26,000 local residents went to have a look.

They left more than 500 suggestions, many of which have been written into the new plan, said Tan.

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