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Leaders call for raising local living standards

( China Daily )

Updated: 2012-03-28

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Leaders call for raising local living standards

People gather at Zhongshan Park in Qingdao to see the cherry blossom trees bloom. The city government is prioritizing the construction of an eco-friendly environment over the next five years.

Local authorities made a vow in early February to build Qingdao, Shandong province, into a modern international city with a high standard of living for its residents.

"A friendly environment and a sense of happiness are what our people want and what we are working for," said Li Qun, Party chief of Qingdao's municipal committee.

Leaders call for raising local living standards

The goal has been listed as a priority on the city government's agenda for the next five years.

As one of the most dynamic economies in the eastern China, the coastal city generated more than 600 billion yuan ($95 billion) in GDP last year.

"What we are building now is not only an economically advanced regional center but also an environmentally friendly city where everyone can create his or her own value," Li said.

To this end, local authorities will focus on improving education, medical services, services for the elderly and housing.

The authorities will expand access to quality educational resources to children in urban and rural areas regardless of their status as locals or migrants, Li said.

The city government plans to make what is reportedly the largest investment in school infrastructure in its history. It will build kindergartens and boarding high schools with a combined floor space of 1.8 million square meters.

The government will also spend nearly 100 million yuan to fund kindergartens across the city .

Another 100 million yuan will be used for renovation and subsidies for school buses to guarantee the safe transportation of students.

At the same time, the city's medical service network will also expand coverage of urban and rural areas, Li said, adding that heavy investment will be made to improve service quality.

Dealing with the city's ageing population has become a pressing issue for local authorities as well. In Qingdao, people older than the age of 60 are expected to account for nearly 20 percent of the city's total population in the next five years.

More quality products and services designed for senior citizens will be offered, and the city will add nursing homes, each with at least 800 beds.

The city government will fund the nursing homes at a cost of 12,000 yuan per bed.

The housing issue is another highlight of this year's government work, according to local officials.

More than 28,000 government-funded apartments will be built this year to house low-income groups, 5,700 units more than last year.

More than 20 percent of the total housing supply will be offered to citizens with low incomes over the next five years, Li said.

While local authorities plan to support startups and attract investment to create more jobs and increase the incomes of locals, more government investment will go to the construction of the city's social security system and improve living standards, according to the city government.

By Xiechuanjiao in Qingdao (China Daily)


(China Daily 03/07/2012 page24)