Contain the impulse to build new cities

Updated: 2013-08-26 20:42


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Before building a new city or urban development, the government should not only consider the safety of the proposed project, but also the financial burden that the new development might represent in the long run, says an article of the Southern Metropolis Daily. Here is an excerpt:

The city government of Yan'an in Shaanxi province has started work on its planned new city in the mountains near the old city. The overall planned area of construction is about 50 square kilometers and the new city will accommodate about 400,000 residents.

When the media questioned the government on the rationale behind the project and its safety, the mayor said he was completely convinced on the safety issue and that the new city was being built to protect the revolutionary relics left in the old city by the Red Army in the 1930s and 1940s, while accommodating the city’s rising population.

Yan'an is located on a special geological belt that is often the cause of landslides in the area. The main reason for the doubts voiced in the media is the unstable nature of the mountain on which the city is to be built.

The Yan'an city government should provide more concrete scientific evidence to prove the project's safety.

Another question is whether the Yan'an government will have financial problems in providing the necessary public services for the new city. Some counties in Yan'an are poverty-stricken, while the rich ones benefit from crude oil deposits, which will soon be exhausted after decades of exploitation.

Building a new urban area will contribute to the city's GDP in the short term. However, after the mayor is transferred, or promoted, to somewhere else after several years — as is often the case with Chinese mayors — the new city may become a financial burden.

The financial safety of the project is a question deserving of a response from the mayor. And if the city government cannot sustain such a new city in the future, it will become an empty "ghost city" — like some others in China.