Beijing plan caps population at 23 million people by 2020

By Zhang Ye Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/29 23:33:40

Beijing will cap its official population at 23 million by 2020, according to a 2016-35 city plan announced on Friday.

Drafted by the city government under the guidance of top Chinese leadership and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the blueprint includes a real estate overhaul and a reduction in land available for construction.

The plan was approved on Wednesday by the Communist Party of China's Central Committee and the State Council, according to a posting that appeared on the official Beijing government website on Friday.

The plan promises a long-term mechanism to stabilize the property market and ensure greater access to housing.

In the next five years, more than 1.5 million new homes will be offered on the city market, 30 percent for rent. Some 30 percent of apartments will be made available to buyers without a Beijing hukou household registration card. They share ownership with the local government.

Land used for urban and rural construction will be scaled down from 2,921 square kilometers in 2015 to about 2,860 square kilometers in 2020 and 2,760 square kilometers by 2035, according to the plan.

The new plan sends a signal to the nation that it is time for the bigger cities in China to shift their focus from achieving economic goals to improving quality of life, Zhu Dajian, director of an urbanization think tank at Tongji University, told the Global Times Friday.

"Many coastal cities in East China will follow suit as they are also suffering a concentrated outbreak of urban diseases caused by the imbalances between rapidly swelling populations and limited urban resources," Zhu said.

Air pollution remains one of the most serious complaints among capital city residents. Under the new plan, the average concentration of small hazardous particles known as PM2.5 will drop to about 56 micrograms per cubic meter in 2020, 30 percent lower than 2015. To reduce pressure on the capital city, the plan includes a subsidiary administrative center in the suburban district of Tongzhou as well as the Xiongan New Area in North China's Hebei Province.

With central government backing and participation by private companies, Beijing's city plan can be carried out efficiently, Zhu said.

"Private companies always know better what people really need and how to meet those needs," he said.

Beijing's population is shrinking thanks to tough new population control policies, according to an official report published September 21. The city's official residents increased 24,000 to 21.729 million in 2016, but permanent migrants fell 151,000 to 8.07 million, according to a report by the Beijing University of Technology and the social work committee of CPC Beijing Committee.

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