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Comments by the Chinese Delegation on the Issue of Human Settlements at CSD12 Practice and Experience of Suzhou City

2004-04-23 00:00

Mr. Chairman:

I'd like to give a brief introduction to the practices and experience in human settlement construction of the local government of Suzhou, China, in the process of the preservation and renovation of that ancient city.

Suzhou has long occupied a prominent place in China's history and culture. As a result of economic and social development and population growth, this ancient city has come under increasing pressure with various problems becoming more and more acute.

In accordance with the overall plan for the city of Suzhou approved by the State Council of China, the municipal government of Suzhou established the goal of preserving the characteristic style of the ancient city, improving settlement quality and modernizing the living standard of the residents of Suzhou.

The government set its priorities as:

1. Preserving historical and cultural heritage. Under this priority, preservation and renovation work has been carried out on sites of cultural and historical interest.

2. Implementing the project of safe and adequate housing, which included upgrading dilapidated and dangerous houses and improving housing quality with a view to modernizing the living of the residents of Suzhou.

3.Improving the city's infrastructure and various functions, including transportation, water, sewage, electricity, tele-communication, cable-TV, street lighting and fuel gas.

4.Implementing an integrated program for improving water-related environment, which included dredging old water-ways, establishing proper channeling of sewage, building sewage processing plants and moving away the factories that caused serious pollution.

5. Creating a favorable ecological environment and increasing the area of tree coverage.

The preservation and renovation of the ancient city of Suzhou followed the principle of "organized by the government, guided by planning, supported by policy, implemented in an integrated and balanced manner by commercial means with the collaboration of different departments". The mode taken was one of integrated development. The implementation was organized by various levels of government and carried out by development enterprises. After a process of gradual and step-by-step exploration, a successful way was found for the preservation and renovation of the city. A series of policies were formulated to grant tax breaks and exemptions in an effort to actively support the smooth going of the program. A multitude of financing methods were adopted, including financial guarantee by the government, bank loans, attracting investment of the society as well as outside and foreign investment. The settlement of residents was integrated with housing reform. These measures guaranteed the launching and operation of the program. Through commercial means, land resources were distributed in a rational manner to make use of Suzhou's indigenous advantage so as to promote social development. As a result of the renovation, a zone of commerce, trade and tourism was built up which combined traditional commerce, tourism, culture and religion into an integrated whole. This in turn promoted the adjustments of Suzhou's industrial structure and commercial arrangement, thus increasing in a comprehensive way economic, social and environmental benefits.

For years, the municipal government of Suzhou has taken as the top priority the preservation and renovation of this ancient city, and has accumulated some experience in the implementation process. First, all levels of leadership must give this work the highest attention and coordination and cooperation among departments are necessary. Secondly, the leading role of planning should be given the full play so that the preservation and renovation of this ancient city could be achieved through careful planning and designing. Thirdly, the energy of the whole society needs to be mobilized to ensure full participation and to form synergy. Fourthly, a plural and multi-channel approach should be taken in financing. Fifthly, the projects built should be systematic in order to achieve comprehensive benefits.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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