Crowded Chinese cities undermine living standards of residents

21:58, October 08, 2010      

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As the first workday after China's week-long National Day holiday began Friday, Beijing's traffic conditions finally returned to their normal state -- heavy congestion.

During the past "golden week" holidays, many drivers had spent hours waiting on major expressways around the capital.

However, frequent traffic jams and the occasional super-jams are not the only problems troubling Chinese urbanites. City dwellers also have to contend with too few available kindergartens and hospitals, and polluted air. In fact, the entire urban traffic network is sometimes considered untrustworthy.

To put it simply, living in big cities is not as glamorous as it seems.

According to a survey,which was also a part of a proposal to the government by the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body, Beijing's population is growing much faster than expected.

It said the city's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) had projected that Beijing's population should be around 16.25 million in 2008, but in reality, by the end of 2009, the population had reached 19.72 million.

The rapid population growth has placed a heavy burden on education, health care and social security, which has resulted in the inadequate delivery of public services, it said.

Further, it said that efforts to alleviate traffic pressures would soon be offset by the rapid increase of cars in Beijing. The city had only two million cars in August 2003; by 2010, that figure had soared to 4.5 million. It is expected to hit 7 million in 2015.

Prof. Wang Yuma at the Chinese Academy of Governance said such problems were unavoidable when the urban population increases.

Wang said one solution was to develop small and medium-sized cities to attract the rural population which often migrated to big cities to improve their living standards. He also said the government should focus on improving public services in small and medium-sized cities.

Wang said labor-intensive industries were no longer fit for big cities and should instead be transferred to small and medium-sized ones to create jobs for rural migrant workers. He also said that the assessment of the work of city leaders should not focus solely on GDP, because it could make them ignore issues concerning the daily lives of residents.

"Factors concerning residents' life satisfaction should be considered as a key city management concept," he said.

Source: Xinhua


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