Renovating shantytowns benefits all

Updated: 2016-01-06 07:22

(China Daily)

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Renovating shantytowns benefits all

On his first inspection trip of the year, Premier Li Keqiang visits a shantytown in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, on Monday. An emotional Li told some of his accompanying ministers: "Haven't you seen that these people are still living in such conditions?" [Photo/Chinanews service]

One water faucet and one toilet shared by 830 households in an urban shantytown: this is how poor living conditions can be for some urban residents who cannot afford their own apartments and need the government to provide them with better living conditions.

Pointing to these shabby dwellings with neither sewers nor central heating, in Taiyuan, capital of North China's Shanxi province, Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday: "There are way too many things left to be done in China!"

On the one hand, the huge stockpile of unsold homes is still growing. Bringing the sluggish realty market back to life is proving a hard nut for the government to crack. On the other hand, many urban residents are still living in shantytowns and cannot afford to buy a home of their own.

It is undoubtedly important for the government to find a solution to the stagnant realty market, since a revived housing market would increase the demand for raw materials which would inject life into the steel, cement and other construction related industries.

Yet, it is no less important for local governments to pay enough attention to improving the living conditions of poor urban residents who are not wealthy enough to buy a house at market prices.

And if local government leaders act to help poor urban residents improve their living conditions, the renovation of shantytowns can be turned into a driving force for local economic development.

There is no contradiction between economic growth and extending a helping hand to residents in need of help.

A competent local leadership with enough concern for the wellbeing of all local residents should be able to work out a feasible way for economic growth to serve the needs of those on the bottom rungs of the social ladder, rather than just pursuing nice looking growth figures.