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China Daily Website

Time to reflect on urbanization

Updated: 2013-12-11 21:27
By Li Yang (

That the United Nations accepted China’s proposal to settle Oct 31 as “World Cities Day” is a testimony to China’s global influence and its responsibility to the world, says an article of the People’s Daily (excerpts below):

This is the first time that a UN international day has been named based on a proposal from China.

The Shanghai World Expo in 2010 took cities as its main theme and called for better quality of life in cities, as well as their sustainable development.

The Shanghai Declaration issued by the expo proposed to fix Oct 31 as World Cities Day to motivate people to make innovative and unremitting efforts to improve cities.

The history of human civilization and development is also the history of the development of cities. Urbanization is the universal principle of the development of human society as well as a necessary process in the modernization of nations. UN statistics show that more than half of the world population lives in cities. Human society has entered a new stage in its development featuring the development of cities.

International experience shows that the income level of a country or a region is often proportional to the degree of urbanization. The average urbanization rate of developed countries is mostly around 80 percent.

It is estimated that by 2025, the 600 biggest cities in the world will contribute two thirds of global gross domestic product. From 2007 to 2050, an additional 3.1 billion people globally will become city dwellers, of which 2.9 billion will be in developing countries.

In 2012, of the fastest developing cities, three quarters were in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa.

The urbanization experience of the developed countries indicates that when the urbanization rate reaches between 40 percent and 60 percent, economic and social development will face a series of challenges. “City sickness” will hinder the further development of cities.

Drawing lessons from other countries, the developing nations should identify remedies to their problems according to their own environments and situations.

The urbanization rate of China has risen from 17.9 percent in 1978 to more than 50 percent today. It took China only 30 years to reach its current level of urbanization, while the United Kingdom took 200 years and the United States took 100 years.

China will explore its path of urbanization with the aim of putting people first.

World Cities Day provides a good opportunity for different countries to share their experiences with each other and for people to reflect on the direction of healthy urbanization.