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China sets 23 million population limit for Beijing
Published on: 2017-09-29
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032 2China announced it would limit Beijing's population to 23 million by 2020 and build a world-class urban area around the capital, a move experts said would further transfer its non-capital functions to nearby areas.

"The scale of the city should be controlled," the State Council said in response to The Beijing Urban Master Plan (2016-35) on Wednesday, urging the city to limit its permanent population to 23 million by 2020 and maintain it at that level.

The report said Beijing's permanent population was 21.7 million at the end of 2016.

030"We should defend the three red lines of the population, ecology and urban exploitation," the reply said, noting that the strictest water management system should be enforced to ensure the capital's water security.

"Beijing's population has been gradually rising. Setting a goal is meant to allow more than a million people to enter the city," said Niu Fengrui, a research fellow at the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Limiting the population is also achieved by transferring Beijing's non-capital functions to retain the city's role as a political and international communication center, gradually reducing its functions as a cultural and innovation center," said Niu. He added that nearby areas, including Tianjin and Hebei, will take over those functions and develop together with Beijing.

The reply also stressed the synergic development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, vowing to build a world-class urban area with the capital as the core.

In April, the central government announced plans for the Xiong'an New Area, which will facilitate the coordinated development of Beijing and the surrounding region. The area, covering Xiongxian, Rongcheng and Anxin counties, is about 100 kilometers south of Beijing.

031"Keeping the commute time from Xiong'an to Beijing within 30 minutes will be the next step," Niu said, adding that the plan and its implementation should be consistent to avoid setting unreasonable goals.

The State Council also urged the preservation of the historic city and its features.

Protecting the old city and the "Three Hills and Five Gardens," where imperial palaces and gardens are located, should be strengthened and the old city will never be demolished, it said.

"Beijing's old city and environment have been severely damaged in the past decades. To protect Beijing's cultural heritage and ecology is essential to urban planning and management," said Luo Yameng, a Beijing-based urbanization expert.

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