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South China metropolis benefits from international games

(Xinhua)

14:38, August 10, 2011

For 26-year-old Jiang Huali, a typical morning used to involve waking up at 6 a.m. and spending more than two hours riding buses to her office in downtown Shenzhen.

These days, Jiang makes it to work in just an hour, courtesy of one of several new subway lines that have been built in the south China city as it prepares for the upcoming 2011 Universiade.

Jiang is just one of more than 10 million Shenzhen residents who have already benefited from the renovations and developments that the city has undertaken in preparation for the 12-day sports event, which will open on Aug. 12.

Shenzhen won the right to host the 26th Universiade in 2007. The city immediately began working to improve its infrastructure, upgrading and remodeling 280 main roads and spending 75 billion yuan (11.7 billion U.S. dollars) to build five subway lines with a total length of 156 km. All five of the subway lines opened to the public in June this year.

"Large events create pressure to spur city leaders to speed up infrastructure construction and to modify and perfect their cities," said Wang Yukai, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance.

Wang said that hosing international events can have a long-lasting influence on a host city's future development.

Chinese cities are taking advantage of opportunities to host such events, seeking to boost their influence, upgrade infrastructure and improve their residents' quality of life.

Beijing made significant changes to its infrastructure before hosting the 2008 Olympic Games. It was ranked the following year as a "world capital of the future" by Forbes, an American publishing and media company. Shanghai's hosting of the 2010 World Expo allowed the city to make similar developmental strides.

Guangzhou, a large city in south China's Guangdong Province, virtually remade itself in preparation for hosting last year's Asian Games. The city rolled out 910 urban improvement projects, including renovating buildings, cleaning up rivers and expanding its subway system.

Shenzhen is just the latest Chinese city to join the fray. The city has given facelifts to many of its older buildings, fortified community-based security facilities and renovated 1,600 of its shabby "urban villages," which are home to many lower-income city dwellers.

"This area has changed. The houses have been repainted and decorated, streets have been repaved. More and more people are shopping here," said Wang Yanli, a tea vendor living in the city's Xiashiwei urban community.

Measures have been taken to ensure that the Universiade will be environmentally friendly, Xu Qin, vice president and secretary-general of the event's organizing committee, said at a press conference in July.

Xu, who is also the mayor of Shenzhen, said 65 percent of the event's venues have been remodeled or based on existing facilities in order to save costs and reduce the event's environmental impact.

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