Chinese cities such as Hefei, Anhui province, are wrestling with the twin problems of rapid urbanisation and water management. Image: Jianan Yu/Reuters
China's Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli has urged local authorities to improve the way in which they plan their urban environments.
In a meeting with provincial leaders and officials, Zhang underscored the principles adopted during a national city planning conference and called for improvements to be made across the board.
Aimless expansion should be avoided, he said, and cities should be designed with their local characteristics in mind, Zhang said.
The renovation of substandard housing should be accelerated and underground infrastructure should be improved, he said, adding that each urban area needs an efficient security system able to respond to emergencies. He also urged pushing forward building of sponge cities, which are expected to soak up water to reduce flood risks through things such as permeable roads and rooftop gardens.
With more than half of China's 1.37B-people population living in cities (here Shanghai, the most populous metropolis in the world), the question of city design, management and safety is of top priority, says the statement by President Xi Jinping and government officials. Image: Simon Desmarais/Wikipedia
The emphasis on urban planning comes against a backdrop of unfettered, rapid urbanization in the past few decades, which has resulted in urban ills such as traffic jams, pollution and compromised public safety.
The urban planning vision was promoted at the Central Urban Work Conference in December, accompanied by pledges to transform urban development patterns and improve city management.
The last time China held a meeting like this conference was in 1978, when only 18 percent of the population lived in cities. By the end of 2015, 56.1 percent of the population lived in urban areas. The conference said urban development should focus on creating environments where people can live in harmony with each other and nature.