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Urban development boundaries set for 683 cities to help with planning

By Li Menghan | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-10 09:49
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China recently demarcated its urban area for the first time, providing a comprehensive, standardized and comparable foundation for land use planning, experts said.

"China has achieved spatial, quantitative and precise delineation of urban areas for the first time," said Wang Wei, an official from the Ministry of Natural Resources' territorial space planning bureau. "The achievement of urban boundary setting in 683 cities across the country is standardized, scientific, authoritative and contemporary."

The delineation showed that urban areas total 110,200 square kilometers, with built-up urban areas covering 78,000 sq km.

Wang said a lack of standards and monitoring methods had previously led to variations in the statistical criteria of urban areas across regions, undermining the accuracy, reliability and comparability of the data.

To address this, the ministry developed a procedure for urban area delineation three years ago that "filled the institutional gaps "by using information from land surveys and remote sensing, as well as population data and the coverage of public facilities.

"This is an effective measurement to control arbitrary urban growth," said Li Xiaojiang, the former head of the China Urban Planning and Design Institute.

He said clear urban boundaries would help to stop urban development projects from encroaching on arable land, enhance land use efficiency and prevent ecological damage.

Zhao Zhiqing, a professor from the School of Architecture and Design at Harbin Institute of Technology, told People's Daily that urban boundaries and statistical collection need to be continuously updated.

Zhao said that enabled comparisons of a city's development over time and comparisons of development levels among cities, providing guidance for adjustments in urban development planning and resource allocation.

Wang said the delineation of China's urban area has already been utilized in areas such as crafting national land use plans, conducting health assessments of cities, tracking dynamic urban land prices and monitoring subsidence in coastal cities.

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