Updated: 2013-03-13 07:14
Urbanization holds the most potential for China's economic growth over the next couple of decades. But what kind of urbanization we need and where we will end up if we continue to follow the path we have taken over the past three decades needs the serious attention of policymakers and urban planners.
The latest study on the quality of the country's urbanization, conducted by China Economic Weekly and Urban Development and Environment Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, found that the quality of urbanization is comparatively low when it comes to urban administration and urban planning, pollution control and sustainability. So even the urbanization quality of the top 20 cities will not meet the standards we expect of a modern city if we continue to follow the path we have been doing in the years to come.
When more than 50 percent of Chinese cities suffer from a lack of water, the efficient use of water should obviously be one of the main concerns for policymakers and planners.
When air pollution and traffic congestion have become the scourges of urban life, ways to control air pollution and reduce the use of cars must be considered.
When an increasing number of cities are under threat from their surrounding landfills, facilities to treat and recycle garbage must be in place before a city is expanded or a new town constructed.
Even the 20 cities that are regarded as having the best quality of urbanization - led by Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen - have failed to solve these problems. Among other things, very few of them effectively and efficiently use reclaimed water yet.
Unlike 30 years ago when the country's reform architect Deng Xiaoping advised that we search our way through the river by feeling the stones, we now have enough experience after decades of urbanization to make our towns and cities more sustainable in the future.
Therefore, our urban planners and urbanization policymakers need to see to it that cities or towns are expanded or built in such a way that resources of all kinds can be as efficiently utilized as possible and pollution is reduced to a minimum.
(China Daily 03/13/2013 page9)