THE EARTH TIMES
APRIL 15 – 30, 1996
China to Target: 600 new cities by the year 2010
By Ashali Varma
BEIJING–No other country comes near to the proportion of cities that China is planning to build in the next two decades. And to no other country is the “City Summit” expected to take place in Istanbul, June 3-14, so relevant. In an exclusive interview with The Earth Times, China’s Vice Minister of Construction, Mr. Li Zhendong, spoke about the challenges and
planned solutions for accommodating 200 million more people in cities that are yet to built, in order to deal with rapid urbanization and to control the size of mega-cities.
“We have at present 633 cities,” he said. “By the year 2000 we will have 800 cities and by 2010 we plan to have 1,200 cities. Today, 300 million people in China live in cities. By the year 2010 the estimated population living in cities will be 500 million.”
Li said the principle behind city construction was to develop medium and small size cities,
which would be manageable and sustainable.
“We have 2,000 counties in China. The size varies but the population is approximately
100,000 and above in each county. The reason they are called counties is because they do not
have the full infrastructure of services now,” Li said.
With the development of the, economy and business, Li said, more and more small towns
would become the cities of the future. “Water supply, sewage treatment, transportation, heating and gas, hospitals, schools and shopping centers are some of the areas that have to be developed,” he said.
On the question of pollution control, which is a major problem with cities today, Li said that this is very much part of China’s Agenda 21. “We are planning on effective pollution control measures on polluted rivers and lakes. This will include legislation for each region that a river flows through. In addition, we have a plan to control counties and towns from discharging waste and sewage into rivers.”
Aware of the industrial pollution that is taking place in China’s leap to join world economies, Li said that factories and industries that produce contaminants will either have to drastically reduce pollutants or close down.
On the subject of already polluted rivers, Li said that a case in point was the Huaihe river in
the southern part of China.
“The State Council has an objective to clear the pollution before the year 2000. All polluting
sources to the river will be removed,” he said. Li explained the process: A total of 46 sewerage plants will be built along the river with a total investment of 6 billion RMB (the equivalent of $750 million). The daily capacity for the total sewage treatment will be 3.5
million cubic meters. China’s Vice Minister of Construction Tan Qinglian said, “We think the Habitat II Conference is very important for us. Our government’s view is to have better housing for all citizens, which includes better public services and a clean environment.
All this is possible when there is good planning for cities.