Chinese Experts Call for Sustainable Urban Development
China's rapid urbanization has created many resource-based cities, which center on one resource-intensive industry like coal mining for economic and social development.
Now, experts are urging the country to pursue sustainable urban development as some of the cities deplete their resources and face developmental crises.
Wu Jia takes a closer look.
Abundant natural resources, like coal and oil, once meant immediate wealth for a region. But after several decades of exploitation, resource-based cities are forced to find new pillar industries and rehabilitate the environment.
The situation is particularly urgent in the 44 cities designated by the central government as depleted in primary resources.
Xiao Jincheng is a researcher at an institute under the National Development and Reform Commission. He says the difficulties faced by resource-depleted cities send a warning to other resourced-based cities.
"Resource-based cities should make good use of their available but limited natural resources. They should lay out long-term economic and social development plans before their resources dry up."
Since 2007, the central government has been channeling funds to selected resource- depleted cities to help them cultivate new industries and create sustainable development. The program first covered 12 cities and was later expanded to 44.
The Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner, has recently decided to conduct a thorough evaluation of the first 12 cities in terms of economic and social transformation. The economic planner aims to draw on lessons and experience from these cities for the sustainable development of other resource-based cities.
Li Yujun, a urban development researcher from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says that resource-depleted cities should carry out an overall transformation of their growth mode according to their own conditions. She stresses that a key task is to prepare talents for new industries.
"During the transformation of a city's development mode, we should pay special attention to the training of the existing labor force. We must renew the knowledge and skills of the backbone workers, who used to engage in one industry. Also, the city should attract creative talents to foster the growth of new industries."
Li Yujun adds that Chinese cities, whether resource-based or not, should routinely upgrade their traditional industries and pursue quality growth. She emphasizes that urban development should be based on the efficient use of resources and the conservation of the environment.
A study by the National Development and Reform Commission shows that China has about 390 mining towns, which are, by definition, resource-based cities. Among them, 50 have had local resources dry up and now struggle with serious social problems.
The development crises of those cities have left three million miners jobless and affected the lives of another 10 million people.
For CRI, I'm Wu Jia.