With the sustained and steady economic growth in China, China's urbanization has stepped into the stage of full-scale acceleration, said Chinese Vice Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing Tuesday.
Qiu told a press conference sponsored by the state council information office that China's urbanization has progressively increased with continuous increase in size and number of cities and towns.
From 1978 to 2002, the level of urbanization in China increased from 17.92 percent to 39.1 percent, with an increase of 21.18 percentage points, said Qiu. The annual growth rate was 0.88 percentage points, two times the world average level of the same period, he added.
Statistics from the Ministry of Construction show that by the end of 2002, there were 660 cities and 20,600 administrative towns in China, totaling a population of 502 million.
Qiu said in the process of urbanization, the planning in the urban and rural areas, serving as a basic means to guide and regulate the urban and rural construction and development, has played an active role in promoting economic and social developmentin the urban and rural areas.
A working mechanism guiding the planning in the urban and ruralareas that fits in the situation of China has taken shape, said Qiu, adding that all the cities, most administrative towns and 70 percent of villages have made revisions of their master plans in succession, which has effectively guided and coordinated various activities concerning land use and development.
But Qiu noted that there are still some problems in the urban and rural planning. One of these problems, a large number of so-called "Image Projects" or "Achievement Projects" that waste man power and money have been undertaken only to promote the image of a city or achievement of city officials.
Other problems include inappropriate acquisition and occupationof land in the form of development zones, overlapped construction in some key infrastructure development projects, and the damage toancient buildings or relics during the construction, said Qiu.
Qiu said, currently, about one-fifth of China's total cities and towns have such problems of inappropriate urban and rural planning, and the Chinese government has decided to take serious measures to solve these problems.
Qiu said the Chinese government started inspection and regulation on national development zones six months ago, and half of China's more than 6,000 development zones scattering across the country have been closed, contributing to the recovery of more than 300 square kilometers of farm land.
The government will continue inspection of the remaining 3,000 development zones, said Qiu, adding that those people and agencies found guilty of illegal behaviors in building development zones will be finally punished.
Qiu said that to solve these problems, the Chinese government will further strengthen the role of urban and rural planning in the economic and social development of the urban and rural areas. And the Ministry of Construction will offer more guidance in the future to the local governments in promoting a coordinated development among all cities and towns.
The Chinese government will also strengthen the supervision andpunishment mechanisms in promoting urban and rural planning, said Qiu, adding that all urban and rural planning made by the local governments should receive the supervision of the public, and any illegal and inappropriate behaviors in the urban and rural construction should be corrected immediately, or will be punished accordingly.