'Sub-healthy' cities a warning sign

Updated: 2014-09-26 07:57

(China Daily)

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Almost 90 percent of Chinese cities, including Beijing and Tianjin, are "sub-healthy", says a study conducted by the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies, affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. According to the environmental health index, Beijing ranks as low as 206th among the 300 cities at the prefecture level or above. The findings of the recent report should be a wake-up call for local governments to take environmental protection measures, says an article on gmw.cn. Excerpts:

Chinese people are not unfamiliar with negative reports on city health. Yet they may still be surprised to know that very few cities in China can be termed healthy for residents.

A city's healthiness reflects the level of its people-oriented policies. Judging from all known indicators - economic, environmental and public services - only cities with sound eco- and people-oriented management can be truly called healthy and sustainable.

The low ranking of mega-cities such as Beijing in terms of health is thus understandable. But it should serve as a warning against excessive urbanization.

Admittedly, mega-cities are high on employment and infrastructure indexes thanks to rapid urbanization. Nonetheless, the unsolicited side effects, including duality of social development, poor environmental conditions and heavy traffic, have dealt a blow to cities long-term development and, eventually, lowered the happiness index of its residents.

Because of the country's reform plans, most cities will have to undergo urbanization in the near future. Therefore, local governments should attach greater importance to their residents' well-being, instead of blindly pursuing higher GDP growth.