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China witnesses accelerated urbanization

Over 500 new Chinese cities have been spawned since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, according to experts at the 2009 China Urban Planning Conference held in Tianjin from September 12-14.

Experts said the number of Chinese cities have grown from 150 in the1950s to over 600 in 2009, with urban population accounting for 47% of the country’s total population in 2009, up from 14% in the 1950s.

The changes of China’s urbanization process from 1949 to 2009 include the per capita housing size in cities increasing from 4 square meters to 28 square meters and urban infrastructure facilities improving greatly, said Zhou Ganzhi, academician of the Chinese Academy of Science.

All of these changes are part of a transition from a centrally planned economy to a socialist market economy. Achievements of China’s urbanization not only include the rapid growth of cities and urban population, but also the coordinated development of the country’s economy and society, Zhou added.

Not surprisingly, the accelerated urbanization process will present China with more serious challenges.

Qiu Baoxing, vice minister of Housing and Urban-rural Development, predicted at the conference that the level of China’s urbanization may reach 50%. By that time, over 650 million Chinese people will live in cities.

He anticipated that more serious challenges will be presented in infrastructure, resources, energy and environment.

“The solution to the challenges lies in the reforms of cities,” Qiu said.

By Guo Changdong

TIANJIN City of Glamour