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5 Dec, 2013

China unveils plan for resource-dependent cities


(Xinhua ) 2013-12-03, BEIJING – China on Tuesday unveiled a development plan for 262 cities it identified as resource-dependent — those that are rich in natural resources — in an effort to guide their growth onto a more sustainable track.

The plan, the first national framework on sustainable development of resource-dependent cities, put the cities into four categories based on their resource sustainability — namely “growing,”  “mature,”  “declining” and “regenerative.”

Depending on their states, the plan outlines different growth tasks for the cities and pledges policy support to facilitate their restructuring and upgrading.

Yunnan, Liaoning and Henan are the top three provinces that have the highest concentration of such cities.

The latest plan came as decades of exploitation have dried up resources in some of those cities and left them saddled with problems such as environmental degradation, unemployment and heavy social security burdens.

“Resource-rich cities have made tremendous contributions to China’s economic take-off, but the sacrifice they made is also huge,” noted Du Ying, vice director of the National Development and Reform Commission, in a press briefing on the release of the plan.

In China’s resource-exhausted cities, around 70 million square meters of shantytown areas need renovation, 600,000 miners remain unemployed and over 1.8 million residents are living on subsistence allowances, according to the plan.

To tackle those problems and help the cities grow in a more sustainable manner, China in 2001 started a pilot in resource-exhausted Fuxin City of northeast China’s Liaoning Province, where authorities introduced policies to encourage more diversity in the industrial structure, such as developing modern agriculture.

In light of the experience accumulated over the years, Tuesday’s plan proposed to extend region-specific fiscal and policy support to the 262 cities to balance economic, social and environment development, including forming a resource pricing mechanism that can reflect environment costs.

For “growing” cities with vast resources to be tapped, the government will raise the threshold for exploration and step up evaluation on environmental costs, while emphasizing the introduction of emerging industries.

Cities with “mature” use of their resources should push forward with industrial transformation and upgrading while seeking to establish substitute industries that can act as their economic pillars.

For cities that expect “declining” resource dividends, efforts should mostly be made to create reemployment opportunities for the jobless, renovate shantytowns and deal with hidden geological hazards.

“Regenerative” cities that have freed themselves from their reliance on resources should continue optimizing their economic structure for quality growth, said the plan. The service industry in these cities should be advanced to make them more attractive to visitors.

The plan aims to basically complete the transformation task in resource-exhausted cities and establish a long-term development mechanism nurturing the sustainable development of the 262 cities by 2020.