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Exploring a Livable and Ecological Development Pattern in Building Binhai New Area of Tianjin City


Cheng Xiusheng, Wang Hui,Jin Sanlin & Duan Bingde

I. A Livable and Ecological Development Pattern—the Essential Requirement for Developing and Further Opening up Binhai New Area

In 2006, the policy of developing and further opening up Binhai New Area had been integrated into the overall national development strategy, thus entrusting a great mission on Binhai New Area as the economic center of the Bohai Sea Rim region and North China. This indicates that Binhai New Area, following Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and Shanghai Pudong New Area, has become another engine for regional economic development. However, to develop Binhai New Area into the third engine for regional economic growth under the new domestic and international situations, we must bring forth new ideas about regional development pattern, conform to the trend of economic globalization and regional economic integration, which are gaining speed, implement the scientific concept of development and the major strategic concept of building a harmonious socialist society in an all-round way; and actively explore new patterns for scientific, harmonious and innovative development, so as to play a promoting and demonstrating role in regional economic and social development in a sustainable manner and harmonious coexistence between nature and human.

As a new city-planning concept as well as an economic and social development pattern, a livable and ecological development pattern plays a significant role in pushing forward the development and opening up of Binhai New Area.

First, a livable and ecological development pattern is the basic requirement for the overall orientation of Tianjin and the functional orientation of Binhai New Area. In 2006, the State Council, in the "Reply on the Tianjin Master Plan", explicitly determined the nature of Tianjin as an economic center of the Bohai Sea Rim region, an international port city characterized by economic prosperity, social harmony, advanced science and education, sound infrastructure and beautiful environment, and an eco-city which is the economic center of North China. In the meantime, in its "Suggestion on the Related Issues of Promoting the Development and Opening-up of Tianjin Binhai New Area", the State Council further required Binhai New Area to gradually become a livable and ecological urban area featuring economic prosperity, social harmony, and beautiful environment. From this we can see that the state puts high emphasis on harmonious and sustainable development of economy, society, population, environment and resources in Tianjin and Binhai New Area. Thus, the livable and ecological development pattern is the inevitable choice of Binhai New Area.

Secondly, the livable and ecological development pattern is the necessary requirement for implementing the scientific concept of development and building a harmonious socialist society. To implement the scientific concept of development and the major strategic concept of building a harmonious socialist society in an all-round way, Binhai New Area should make more efforts to adjust economic structure, transform the economic growth mode, conserve energy resources and protect environment, press ahead with reforms and opening-up, promote scientific and technological independent innovation, and promote social development and solve people’s livelihood problems. The New Area should pursue a people-oriented outlook on development that attaches more importance to the improvement of people’s livelihood, promotes equality among the people, and strikes proper balance between urban and rural development, development among regions, economic and social development, as well as development of man and nature. The livable and ecological development pattern serves not only as the reflection of scientific and harmonious development concept but also the major method to realize the concept.

Thirdly, it is the essential requirement for the implementation of the overall national strategic plan for regional development. Proceeding from the larger objective of regional development, the state puts forward the policy of promoting the development and opening-up of Binhai New Area. The policy is adopted with a view to speeding up the development of Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei Province, and the Bohai Sea Rim region, increasing the level of opening-up to the outside world, and enhancing the international competitive capacity; and, on the other hand, to bringing forth new pattern for regional development in the new age. Binhai New Area should take a new-typed industrialization road, enhance independent innovation ability, and increase the overall competitive capacity and the ability to provide regional services so as to create an optimized spatial distribution. Greater efforts should be made to save water, use land efficiently, reduce energy consumption, increase the investment intensity and production efficiency, protect ecological balance, vigorously develop recycle economy in order to strike proper balance between nature, economy, society, and ecological environment, and provide precious experience and a good example for development and reforms carried out throughout the country. That’s why Binhai New Area must explore a livable and ecological development pattern instead of adopting the traditional development concepts.

II. Contradictions and Problems Facing Binhai New Area in its Development

Due to the bottleneck caused by the energy and environmental conditions and the traditional economic growth mode, Binhai New Area is faced with some prominent contradictions and problems in perfecting its livable eco-functions and building a livable and ecological urban area.

1. Binhai New Area suffers shortage of resources and high pressure from environmental protection

Binhai New Area is faced with shortage of energy resources and difficulty in environmental protection. First of all, there is severe water shortage in Tianjin. The problem is so serious that water resource per capita is merely 180 cubic meters, 1/17 of the national level, far below 1000 cubic meters, the international warning limit for water shortage. Even an area like Hangu District which has a fairly small population still suffers from severe shortage of water.

Secondly, Binhai New Area is faced with shortage of land resources. In Tianjin, land per capita is only 0.72 mu (one mu is equal to 1/6 of an acre). And the soil suffers from serious salinization, thus loosing its function as natural wetland. Although Binhai New Area has some land resources, there are still issues arising from the contradictions between industrial land, agricultural land and ecological land. According to some statistics, in 2006, wetland accounted for 55.07% of the total land area of Binhai New Area, cultivated land 20.79%, and residential areas for factory workers and coalminers 12.97%. For Binhai New Area with such diversified ecological and biological resources, great damage could be done on its ecological system by humans’ large-scale production-oriented development activities.


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