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Contemplating Chinese cities’ comprehensive development: Setting Hong Kong as the role model

10 September 2011
Contemplating Chinese cities’ comprehensive development: Setting Hong Kong as the role model

By Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group.

(10-Sep-2011  16:29:12)

A fall of autumn rain whispered throughout the night in Beijing, washing away the heat and the dust in the air. I looked out the window, facing the lane aligned with trees in the neighbourhood. A mother with a yellow umbrella strolled with her little son in blue rain coat hand in hand, pausing at times to point and comment on those ‘’wonders’’ they spotted in the rain. The trees around them are still flourishing. After photosynthesizing intensively in the summer, they show the strength and easiness of grown-up men. A unique and fantastic feeling of appreciation surged within me, possibly due to the picturesque scenery or the awakening worries buried long deep within.

City life should always be as pleasant as this scene, as described in the theme of the World Expo 2010 Shanghai ‘’Better City, Better Life’’. However, most don’t seem to recognize the concept.

Take the region I live in, which is a typical one in China, as an example. The window facing the neighbourhood displays a harmonious combination of avenues, parks, and clean meandering lanes. The view is particularly beautiful now at the turn of summer and autumn, due to the freshness brought by the rain along with the dotted decorations of human figures. Nevertheless, through my window facing the outskirts of the neighbourhood, the narrow river bank is covered with bubbles and is extremely smelly more often than not. Factories of different functions in construction lie not far away. Aside from the noise, it shows dirtiness, messiness and all other unpleasant features. The roads are tangled. The unique traffic jam of Beijing takes place day after day.

Can city life be improved?

I believe many bear this question in mind. The rapid growth of urban populations and the number of cars place a great challenge on the speed of the development of infrastructure in the cities. The governors are facing new series of problems, including housing, traffic, public facilities, sanitation, education, and the quality of the environment. The list can be endless.

To efficiently and effectively support a city and the neighbourhoods in it to work well, we require vast investments as well as constructions.

What is equally crucial, or even more crucial, is the management of human beings. People are the main component of city lives. Whether or not it feels good to live in a city is determined and judged by the residents. Governors working on city management like me must have acquired the most direct and impressive feelings on this issue.

How can we make our lives in the cities better?

I attended the 30th annual celebration of HSBC Hong Kong bank Foundation in Hong Kong recently and was impressed by what I found. Representatives from every sector and the institutions, which have been in cooperation for years gathered to celebrate the special day. What is more important is that it displayed the success and potential of the ‘’Big Society”.  Such mode should be promoted and spread by all the cities in mainland China.

A city government should shoulder the vital burden of managing the city; however, it takes the participation of everyone in the city to make the place splendid. Residents ought to take care of the city as their home.

When corporations try to give back to the society, they should first think about how to preserve the environment, how to make the society friendlier, and how to keep on improving.

Civil institutions, crossing diverse fields inclusive of culture, arts, education, medication, welfare of the physically impaired and all other industries, will take more responsibilities of managing and improving the society’s environment if they are strongly supported by the governments and corporations. This has been proven in the practice of a number of countries and cities.

Therefore, I call on the governments, corporations, and social groups in every city to build up such a system.

We should cooperate, explore and learn from each other, and put the dream of a better city life into practice.

And Hong Kong, our neighbour, is our role model.

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Translated by Sofia Li-Hsin Lee.

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