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Expert: Population not to blame for urban problems

2018-10-15 Print Mail Share

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Liu Thai Ker, master planner and architect of Singapore, speaks to media on the sideline of the first Xixian New Area International Forum on Innovative Urban Development Mode in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi province, on Oct 13, 2018. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Increasing population in a city should not be a reason for metropolitan problems; city planner needs more effort to well coordinate different parts of a city to ensure healthy development of the whole area, an expert said on Saturday.

Liu Thai Ker, master planner and architect of Singapore, told China Daily Website at the first Xixian New Area International Forum on Innovative Urban Development Mode, which was held in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi province, that he does not think rising population in a city is a bad thing as it only proves the city's vigorous economy, which could provide lots of jobs.

The State Council, China's cabinet, approved the Xixian New Area as the seventh national new area in 2014 to further enhance West China development, which spans all seven counties and 23 villages, towns and sub-districts of Xi'an and Xianyang, covering 882 square kilometers, and is home to 1.01 million permanent residents.

The new area is also China's first national new area themed with the innovative urban development mode. Earlier last year, provincial government entrusted Xixian New Area with all the administrative and social governance functions of the jurisdiction, with Xi'an acting as its agent. Xixian aims for "the new center of the Great Xi'an", while the Great Xi'an planned to involve 17,600 square kilometers and a population of 19 million by 2030.

Beyond Xi'an, Chinese cities, including top-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen and provincial cities in particular, kept expanding and attracted more people along with the country's urbanization. Of course, attendant issues, such as air pollution, traffic jam, housing prices and public resources distribution, sometimes throw big city development into doubt.

Liu said in his keynote speech that the doubt is caused by looking at a city as a solo rather than an aggregation when people try to deal with city issues. According to him, the city's districts, satellite towns and communities should be well integrated with each other.

Taking Beijing for example, if people regarded Beijing as one person, a total weight of five or six people put on it would spell problems, obviously; however, if Beijing was a combination of five or six persons, each of which had a normal weight, problems in the city would be much simplified, Liu said, adding that traffic congestion could be alleviated by scattering business centers at several spots across the city, as Singapore's practice showed.

Meanwhile, Fan Gang, secretary-general of China Reform Foundation and director of National Economic Research Institute, asked for more attention on low-income group in cities while delivering a speech at the forum. He said that government should create an environment to bring out the best in both low-income and high-income groups in the city's development.