Interview: Expert says China ready to share experience in towns construction with other countries

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) — China is ready to share its experience in urbanization and towns construction with other countries while it is working to achieve sustainable development, a Chinese urbanization expert said Sunday.

China has accumulated some good experience during the process of urbanization to address the ailments of cities, or what is better known as “urban diseases,” said Chen Yanbing, vice chairman and general-secretary of the International Towns Federation (ITF), in an interview with Xinhua.

With the acceleration of urbanization during its development, China is facing a lot of challenges that other countries have encountered before, including increased population in metropolitan cities, environmental pollution, traffic congestion, creation of jobs, inadequate water supply, and rising housing costs, Chen said.

In order to explore solutions to those problems and support future sustainable development and urbanization of cities and towns around the world, the ITF hosted an international forum in Stanford University earlier this month in partnership with the Center for Sustainable Development and Global Competitiveness (SDGC) at Stanford, which drew some prominent international figures such as former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, he said.

The forum was a good opportunity for political leaders, scholars, urbanization experts and industry representatives from various countries to exchange views and experience in building towns and cities, Chen noted.

“In fact, China has really something good to offer for other countries in towns development, including one of its proud achievements characterized by successful poverty relief,” he said.

China is the most populous country in the world, but it successfully avoided problems of some Western countries in their early-day process of urbanization, where farmers were plunged into extreme poverty after they lost their land, Chen explained.

Unlike those Western countries, Chinese government ensured that people who left their hometowns in the countryside and moved into urban areas were able to have minimal stable income and sheltering, with access to employment, education and medical insurance in cities, Chen said.

“China’s urbanization did not lead to poverty among farmers, which is worth learning by other countries,” he said.

In addition, governments at various levels in China have successfully achieved smooth transition of industry by helping farmers expand their source of income from farming to other industries such as tourism and deep processing of farm products, said the Chinese expert.

“This marks integration of the first and second industries with the service industry, which helped farmers support themselves economically, thus promoting development of multi-industries,” he said.

Furthermore, in recent years, China has done a good job in protecting environment and water resources during urbanization, he said.

“While we built towns, we prevented ecological deterioration, as well as the loss of lakes and trees,” he said.

Despite its huge population, China’s forestation rate has grown steadily in the past few years with more trees being planted every year, and “this is one more experience we can share with our colleagues in other countries,” Chen said.