China should pursue 'high-quality' urbanization: top economic planning body

BEIJING Thu Sep 12, 2013 3:21am BST

Construction workers work on the scaffolding of a new building in front of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in an area where old residential buildings are being demolished to make room for new skyscrapers in Shanghai September 9, 2013. REUTERS//Aly Song

Construction workers work on the scaffolding of a new building in front of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in an area where old residential buildings are being demolished to make room for new skyscrapers in Shanghai September 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters//Aly Song

BEIJING (Reuters) - China must plan scientifically for "high-quality" urbanization that is human-oriented and energy-saving, a senior official at the country's top economic planning agency said in remarks published on Thursday.

China's leaders have an ambitious plan to boost the urban population by 400 million over the next decade, a key plank in a reform effort to restructure the economy away from credit and export growth to one where consumers provide the main impetus.

Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice head of the National Development and Reform Commission, also said China's urbanization level, at about 52 percent of the population, still has a long way to catch up with that of developed economies and even some Asian countries.

"Our urbanization should embody the concepts of green, intensive, intelligent and low-carbon and it does not mean simply building things or enclosing land," he said in an interview at the World Economic Forum in the northeastern port city of Dalian that was posted on the NDRC's website.

His remarks echo those of Premier Li Keqiang, who told a recent meeting of experts on the subject that urbanization should focus on quality of life and the environment and should be driven by job creation.

The NDRC has said it will unveil an urbanization plan in the second half of this year.

Zhang added that China has the necessary means to maintain a relatively high growth rate in the future, considering the domestic demand potential to be released from urbanization.

He also reiterated that Beijing would speed up efforts to deepen reforms in energy prices, the financial sector and fiscal and tax systems to better allocate resources and narrow the wealth gap in the country.

(Reporting by Aileen Wang and Jonathan Standing; Editing by Michael Perry)

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