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Beijing tackles population growth(2)

2014-01-17 09:28 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Wang Fan

Research project

"The main purpose of the plans is to restrict the population growth," said professor Zhao Xiuchi at the Capital University of Economics and Business.

In 2010, she participated in a research project on redistributing the population and urban functions in downtown areas of Beijing.

"Data show the population growth in Beijing is mainly caused by the floating population," Zhao said.

According to Zhao, Dongcheng and Xicheng districts both have to redistribute 100,000 people in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2011-15).

The government's decision to end illegal shared housing is to "reduce the population density", Zhao explained.

However, she said the decision to raise the subway fare is not only to control population growth.

It's also because the subsidy the government pays for the subway fare gets larger and larger as more subway lines are built, putting the government's fiscal expenditure under greater pressure.

Qu Xiaobo, associate professor of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Population and Labor Economics, said the measures will be taken based on the excessive growth of the population in Beijing.

Rental price

The crackdown on illegal shared housing will raise rent, and the price of some commodities will also go up because of the decrease in sellers as big wholesale markets are moved out, according to Li Jianmin, director of Nankai University's Institute of Population and Development.

He said the rise in subway fares, even though not by a large amount, will put the floating population under more pressure.

China Central Television reported late in April that the average rental price for an apartment in Beijing in the first quarter of 2013 was 3,660 yuan.

Both Li and Qu said some people may have to leave Beijing as they cannot afford the rising living costs.

"Some people may ask their companies to raise their salaries in the face of rising living costs, which will result in the rising costs for many companies," Qu said. "In such a situation, some companies may try to reduce their costs by hiring less people."

He said some people may have to leave Beijing because of a decrease in working opportunities.

The increase in costs may also force some low-end industries to move out of Beijing, Qu added.

New arrivals

Professor Lu at Peking University said, however, those measures will only have an influence on population growth in the capital over the short term.

"Some people will leave as living costs rise, but a new group of people will come as many still think they can make money in the capital," Lu said.

Solving excessive population growth in Beijing needs a change of the whole industrial structure of the city and remove functions the capital shoulders to nearby cities, Lu explained.

Zhao agreed and said the key is to redistribute. "Actually, the key to controlling population growth in Beijing is to redistribute its functions. As the capital, Beijing is not only a political, economic and cultural center, but also a commercial, transportation, tourism, education, medical center and so on."

Zhao said the excessive population in Beijing has its roots in the imbalanced development of the country and too many public resources are concentrated in Beijing.

"If the country develops evenly nationwide, the excessive population growth in Beijing will be under control," Zhao said.

Li Jianming echoed Zhao, saying the unbalanced distribution of public resources in the country makes the curb of the excessive population growth in the capital hard to do deal with.

"The great public resources in Beijing are just like a big black hole, attracting people," Li said.

"Unlike the situation in some foreign countries where many young people come to the cities while many old people leave, many elderly stay in the capital just for the great medical resources," Li said.

Li said the capital should insist on its role as a political and cultural center instead of paying so much attention to developing the economy.

"To restrict population growth needs a restriction in the industry structure first," Li said.

Provincial Two Sessions 2014

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