Beijing ranks 8th in satisfaction list

11:04, June 13, 2011      

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Li Xia finds the question of whether she should drive or take a bus to a suburban outing to be vexing.

Driving, she is afraid, will cause her to be stuck in traffic. Yet, buses to the outskirts of the city are rare.

"It shows that not only is traffic bad, but there are not enough green places," said Li, an anthropologist and a senior editor with the Commercial Press. "If we had 30 places we could go on our outings instead of 10, we could go in several different directions to avoid traffic jam."

Despite Beijing's rapid economic growth and the government's work to make the city more accommodating, residents still find their lives here to be unsatisfactory, according to a recent report on Chinese urban life.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Economics and the Capital University of Economics and Business, released the first China City Life Quality Index Report over the weekend.

According to its results, Beijing ranks eighth among the country's 30 provincial and regional capitals. At the top of the list are Guangzhou and Shanghai. And both Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, and Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei province, outpace the national capital.

The cities' quality of life was calculated by taking into account their incomes per capita, inflation rates, green areas and other objective signs. Also looked at were subjective indicators, such as residents' opinions about their incomes, the cost of living, the environment and the pace of life.

The report said Beijing's environment and traffic prevented it from attaining a higher ranking.

"It is a present reality that Beijing is a very populous city," Li Xia said. "Residents would feel much better about it if the management of the city would improve."

Li noted the expansion of Peking Union Medical College Hospital, a renowned general hospital in downtown Beijing.

"The hospital may be able to receive more patients after the expansion, but that only concentrates more resources in the city center," Li said. "Traffic at that point will only become worse if more people visit the hospital."

Residents interviewed by China Daily also complained that going from a subway to a bus is difficult.

"The transport network in Hong Kong seems to be connected in a seamless way, and the signs that indicate the way for passengers are right in front of my eyes whenever I look for them," said Li Xia. "Beijing does a poor job in this respect."

Ma Danni, a 34-year-old Beijing native who married a Shanghai man and now lives in both cities, said she thinks it is more convenient to shop in Shanghai than Beijing.

"You can find shopping malls of various sizes and levels in every district of Shanghai, but the commercial areas in Beijing are mostly in the Second Ring Road," said Ma, who works in the public relations department of a foreign company in Beijing.

Li said people stay in Beijing not for a higher quality of life but because they find more opportunities in the city. That, in turn, places excessive demands on what the city has to offer and ultimately lowers the quality of life.

Economists said individual lives do not improve immediately when the economy grows at a fast rate. He said a city that boasts of having a high quality of life should offer good pension systems and social equality.

"People won't feel they have a satisfactory life if there are large differences between the rich and poor," said Hu Xingdou, a professor of economics at the Beijing Institute of Technology.

"A small number of people now possess most of the large deposits in banks. So it is difficult for the majority of residents to think the quality of their lives is improving."

Source: China Daily
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