China seeks to make cities better places to live in

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China seeks to make cities better places to live in
Panoramic view of Pudong's Skyline from the Bund
China seeks to make cities better places to live in
Panoramic view of Pudong’s Skyline from the Bund

China has detailed its urban planning vision, which has been designed to make its sprawling cities more inclusive, safer and better places to live.

In a statement released after the Central Urban Work Conference, which ran from Dec. 20 to Dec. 21 and was attended by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, policymakers pledged to transform urban development patterns and improve city management.

The last time China held such a high-level meeting was in 1978, when only 18 percent of the population lived in cities. By the end of 2011, in excess of 50 percent of the population called the city their home.

While the “triumph of the city,” which characterized the past decades, has brought about significant social and economic changes in China, it has also spawned problems such as traffic jams, air and water pollution and a stretched public safety network.

On Tuesday, 40 cities in north China had issued alerts for air pollution. Beijing, together with the cities of Baoding, Handan, Langfang and Xingtai in the neighboring province of Hebei, had issued red alerts, the most serious level of the four-tier warning system.

Such urban ills have provoked the ire of the public, putting pressure on city planners to find workable solutions.

The Central Urban Work Conference said livable cities should be the central goal of China’s urban planning, and urban development should be focused on creating environments where people can live in harmony with each other and nature. […]

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