700 Mountains Flattened for New Desert City

Late last month, premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang declared that boosting the country’s urban population, which passed 50% of the total a year ago, was China’s most promising avenue for further development. From Caijing: China has already entered the middle-income stage of development, but the development is “unbalanced”, especially when it comes to the widening gap between town and country, Mr. Li said. Disparity means potential, in other words, China’s biggest potential for development in the coming decades lies in the process of urbanization, he added. […] A UN report, titled Urban and Rural Areas 2011, predicted that nearly 70 percent of the population will live in urban areas by 2035. Over the next two decades China will build 20,000 to 50,000 new skyscrapers and more than 170 cities will require mass transit systems by 2025. At The New York Times on Tuesday, however, Henry M. Paulson Jr. argued that China must rethink its approach to urbanisation. A flawed system of municipal finance is driving debt, corruption and dissent, while unsustainable urban planning has yielded polluted cities that are destroying China’s ecosystem. Yet China’s future requires continued urbanization, which, absent a new approach, will only make the problem worse. Cities can, however, be part of the solution: better urban policies can put China on a healthier path forward, economically and environmentally. […] Getting China’s urbanization right will matter to us all. Fortunately, many in China understand this, and cooperation with the United States government, corporate world and nonprofit sector, including my own research and advocacy institute, is bringing them the tools they need to prioritize design issues in their cities and adapt infrastructure plans now. These tools include instruction in sustainable practices for government leaders, public education in environmental issues and specialized training for the country’s urban planners. China must adopt this ...
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