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China to emphasize livable cities, urban planning

Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke at the Central Urban Work Conference in Beijing last week. (LAN HONGGUANG/Xinhua /Landov)

Chinese cities are synonymous with choking pollution, traffic gridlock and mushrooming sprawl. But those stark realities are not dampening dreams of a better tomorrow.

Xinhua reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping and other government leaders are vowing to make the nation’s cities move livable through improved planning. They spoke at the Central Urban Work Conference in Beijing, the first such gathering in decades.

The pledges were made as Beijing was experiencing severe smog and as 40 northern China cities were issuing pollution alerts. While China’s swift urbanization has fueled economic growth and social change, lax regulation and inadequate planning have taken a toll.  Now, government leaders are touting long-term, comprehensive strategizing as the remedy.

Among the changes: Rural migrants who relocate to cities would have an easier time registering for public services. Shantytowns also are slated for renovations. “The government will take a more sophisticated approach to its urban planning, and encourage enterprises and citizens to participate in creating the cities of the future,” the article says. In 1978, when Beijing held a similar conclave, less than 20 percent of the population lived in metropolitan areas. Today, the figure tops 50 percent. 


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