by Peng Qian
SEOUL, April 10 (Xinhua) -- In the context of the implementation of China's new-type urbanization plan, broad prospects could be expected on urbanization cooperation between China and South Korea in future, said a Chinese urban development official.
Li Tie, director general of China Center for Urban Development under China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), made these remarks in an exclusive interview with Xinhua after making a keynote speech in the sub-plenary "Challenges and opportunities of urban China" of the International Council for local Environmental Initiative (ICLEI) World Congress 2015.
Li pointed out that South Korea's urbanization rate has so far surpassed 90 percent, but the urbanization level of eastern China is only comparable to that of South Korea in the 1980s, while the urbanization level of central and western China only equals to that of South Korea in 1980s.
Although China and South Korea are at different urbanization stages, they have both gone through a quite rapid urbanization process and now face same challenges of limited land sources and share similar cultural basis, which in all decides that they have great space for cooperation, Li said.
Li said he is quite impressed by Seoul's well-arranged city planning in terms of its multi-level transportation system, the development of idle land for people's leisure time along Han River and other measures that make the city convenient for people.
Although Seoul does not have as many tall buildings and wide roads as Beijing, Li said, the density of buildings, the resource allocation and the service industry of the city are all supported by a careful plan.
Li said the emphasis of "people-oriented" in South Korea's city management should be learned by China, as many Chinese local governments care more about their political careers than the citizens' real need. Some so-called urbanization projects are to display local government's vanity instead of truly serving people.
Li said China and South Korea have agreed to join hands in tapping China's growing urbanization market. In March, China and South Korea have decided to cooperate on conducting the "Smart City" experiment in China's southern city of Shenzhen, one of the industry clusters and emerging cities of China with a similar population of Seoul.
Li said China hopes to carry out the Sino-South Korea cooperation on "Smart City" in more Chinese cities in future while making the government-lead exchanges more market-oriented through promoting practical exchanges between industries, cities and the two nations.
"China should not only learn from South Korea's urbanization experiences, but also learn from its experiences in industrial development as the country's large innovative enterprises like Samsung, Hyundai, small and middle-sized enterprises and service industry have also contribute to job creation and urbanization," said Li.
Li also added that China's mass urbanization means a huge market to the world, creating huge demands for high-tech products, consumer products and infrastructure during its journey of achieving of 70 percent urbanization rate.
"In the past we relied on labor forces and land with low price to absorb foreign invest, but now we need a combination of high- tech and international capital to advance China's industry innovation when pursuing urbanization," said Li.
The ICLEI World Congress 2015, held every three years, kicked off on Wednesday in Seoul, officially setting off a four-day platform where mayors and representatives of 250 local governments and a total of over 1,500 participants, can exchange experiences of sustainable development of cities under the theme of " Sustainable Solutions for an Urban Future".