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Urban Construction and Real Estate


Urban Construction

In the early days of New China, the country had only 58 cities, and in 1952 there were only nine cities with populations over one million each. Since 1978, China’s urbanization has been speeded up. The number of cities increased from 193 in 1979 to 668 in 1999. Among these cities there are 37 extra-large ones with populations above one million; 48 large cities with populations between 500,000 and one million; 205 medium-sized cities with populations between 200,000 and 500,000; and 378 small cities with populations less than 200,000. The number of medium-sized cities has increased fairly rapidly, and that of small cities has grown the most rapidly. In the eastern coastal areas, city groups (belts) with extra-large cities as the centers have been formed, such as the Bohai Bay, Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta urbanized areas. The policies of reform and opening to the outside world have greatly strengthened the cities’ comprehensive strength. Between 1988 and 1996, the urban GDP grew by 18 percent on average annually, with the cities’ centering status and role becoming more and more prominent.

Since 1979, the Chinese government has invested heavily in the construction of urban infrastructure facilities, including public utilities, parks and other green areas, urban roads, public communications, water- and gas-supply facilities, and treatment of urban garbage. In 1999, the water supplied totaled 46.75 billion cubic meters in the Chinese cities; the length of the urban roads, 151.000 km; and the total amount of gas and natural gas supplied came to 2.121 million cubic meters.

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Real Estate

In recent years, the real estate business has developed rapidly. All localities throughout the country have worked out policies and measures for the reform of the urban housing system to promote commercialization of housing, the use of land with compensation and the comprehensive development of the real estate business. The main policies are: (1) To actively promote the reform of the real estate investment system-replacing the single mode of investment by the state with diversified investments by the state, localities, enterprises and individuals; (2) to promote the construction of economic and suitable housing and construct ordinary housing according to the housing construction standards specified by the state while the government offers policy-related support by selling housing to the families with medium and low incomes at the cost price; and (3) to establish a housing accumulation fund system for urban residents, while raising the rents for publicly-owned housing, selling the existing publicly-owned housing at the cost price, developing housing finance, etc. To help individuals buy housing, most cities have readjusted the loan direction for housing accumulation funds to help residents to buy their own homes. Now China has more than 20,000 real estate development companies.

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The Chinese government attaches great importance to housing construction in both urban and rural areas, and has adopted a series of policy-related measures to speed up housing construction. Between 1979 and 1999, a total of 3,717.3 billion yuan was invested in the construction of residences in cities and towns. The newly built residences covered a floor space of 16.4 billion sq m. The per capita residential area for urban residents increased from 3.6 sq m in 1978 to 9.8 sq m in 1999. Between 1979 and 1999, the newly built residences in rural areas reached about 13.8 billion sq m, with the per capita residential area increasing from 8.1 sq m in 1978 to 24.4 sq m in 1999. Meanwhile the government has also implemented the “comfortable housing project” so as to improve the living conditions of households with housing difficulties. To improve the living environment for urban residents, China started the construction of 67 residential quarters in 56 cities on a trial basis in 1986, with a total construction area of 10 million sq m. Since the 1990s, the Chinese government has promoted a model project to ensure “better-off housing by the year 2000,” with an area of nearly 10 million sq m. In accordance with the Ninth Five-Year Plan for Urban Housing Construction and the Development Objectives by 2010, by 2000, each urban household will have a residence; 70 percent of urban families will have a residential flat with fairly complete utilities and with the per capita living area reaching 9 sq m and the per capita usable area 14 sq m, and the quality and functions of rural residences will be much improved. By 2010, each urban household will have one residence with complete utilities, the per capita living area reaching 10 sq m, and the per capita usable area, 15-18 sq m. This means a room for each person, in general. At the same time, the quality of rural residences will be greatly improved, with basically complete utilities.

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  Information provided by China National Tourism Administration.


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