Expert warns of excessive urban expansion

By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2015-9-22 0:48:01

Government should focus on small- and medium-sized cities: analyst

A Chinese urban planning expert warned on Sunday that major cities in China have been expanding out of control.

A survey of 12 provincial capitals and 144 prefecture-level cities conducted by the State Council showed that every provincial capital is planning to build an average of 4.6 new districts, while every prefecture-level city is planning to create 1.5 new districts, Guo Renzhong, an expert at the Urban Planning, Land and Resources Commission of Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, said at a seminar in Guiyang, Guizhou Province.

"The population of the nation's new districts is expected to reach 3.4 billion. It is seriously out of control," Guo was quoted by news website as saying Monday.

Guo's views were echoed by other urban planning experts, who called on authorities to resist creating new districts and rethink urban plans.

Li Jianping, a former urban planning expert at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times Monday that poor planning is creating "ghost cities" in new districts at many large cities.

Li said governments should reconsider developing new districts, stressing "they should not be developed without sound planning."

A survey conducted by the National Development and Reform Commission showed that 90 percent of prefecture-level cities were planning to build new districts, reported the Xinhua News Agency in 2014.

According to a China Youth Daily report in July 2013, at least 12 ghost cities across the country have been found, with Ordos in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region the most prominent.

Each resident of Ordos, a city with a population of 650,000, owns three to four houses since the construction boom started in 2006, the Beijing-based China Times reported in 2011.

Li added that some new districts have failed to maintain their cities' character.

"The government should focus on developing small- and medium-sized cities, and find a way to cure urban problems, including overcrowding, air pollution and heavy traffic," said Li. 

Zhou Yixing, a Peking University professor, told that large cities have been merging with small cities, gathering large amounts of resources and talent. "Although urbanization does not necessarily lead to urban ills, poor management has worsened the ills.

Zhang Xiaoling, an assistant to the president of the land survey and planning institute under the Ministry of Land and Resources, said in June that the boundaries of 14 major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, will be determined by the end of the year to prevent them from "blind expansion," according to a previous report.  

According to Zhang, the boundaries of emerging cities can be changed over time, while strict limits should be imposed on large cities.

From 2000 to 2010, the urban expansion rate reached 64.45 percent, 18.55 percent higher than urban population growth during the same period.

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