Beijing mayor warns over city's development

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The Independent Online

Beijing's mayor warned on Monday of "extremely serious" contradictions between protecting the capital's environment and maintaining rapid economic growth and development.

Guo Jinlong made the statements in his annual report to the city's legislature, during which he called for a 12 percent increase in consumption and an 11 percent increase in investment.

"There still exist a lot of difficulties and problems concerning the economic and social development of the capital," Guo said, according to the report posted on the city government website.

"The contradictions between the population, resources and the environment are extremely serious, making the demands of transforming faster our mode of development and adjusting the economic structure even more urgent."

Beijing's air pollution has long been listed as among the worst in the world amid a boom in private automobile sales, with the city regularly shrouded in an acrid haze.

The city's economy expanded by 10.1 percent in 2009, while urban per capita income grew by 9.7 percent to 26,740 yuan (3,900 dollars), Guo said.

Average living standards in Beijing improved in 2009, with per capita gross domestic product topping 10,000 dollars for the first time, official data showed Friday.

Guo urged greater investment in the city's public transport network and more spending on environmentally friendly vehicles and buses to address Beijing's traffic congestion and air pollution.

"We must earnestly implement... measures to control air pollution," Guo said, adding that the capital would target 266 days of at least fairly good air quality in 2010, down from 286 days in 2009.

Addressing Beijing's chronic water shortages, Guo said the city would aim to reduce water consumption in 2010 on a per capita basis.

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