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Beijing City Planning to Benefit Migrant Population

The needs of the growing numbers of migrant workers in Beijing have been taken into account for the first time by city planners looking to improve the livability of China's capital.

Tan Xuxiang, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning deputy director, told a press conference in Beijing on Friday the city had included migrant workers when estimating future population, planning infrastructure and housing projects.

The city planned to cover migrant workers by initiating them into housing projects built for low-income population, he said.

As the national capital and Olympic Games host city, Beijing was currently attracting many migrant workers for its fast infrastructure development, Tan said. "These people, mostly from rural areas, are building the city and may become its permanent residents, which is a way of urbanization."

The number of permanent residents has continued to increase. Last year, 520,000 people moved to Beijing.

"The number has been between 400,000 and 500,000 annually in the past few years," he said. "It's a huge number and great challenge for the city infrastructure."

"We have to figure out solutions for the increasing population." The city government aimed to keep the population under 18 million by 2020. Currently, it stands at 16.33 million, according to the local government.

One solution is to restructure the city's industrial framework. The high-tech industry and service sector fit in the city's development but manufacturing has to develop at an appropriate speed in a bid to avoid overcrowding of people in a small area, he said.

The city was also trying to foster satellite towns to divert newcomers from the downtown. In 2003, about 2.2 million people were living in 10 satellite towns around Beijing.

"We expect the number will increase to 5.7 million (in satellite towns) in 2020. The city will have a balanced layout of population," Tan added.

In addition, the city had also sought cooperation with the neighboring Tianjin municipality and Hebei Province in this field. A grander urban development plan covering three regions was issued early this year.

"With so many people moving in, Beijing also has to improve its management and service to new residents," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency August 2, 2008)

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