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Environment Magazine September/October 2008


May-June 2014

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Sustainable Urbanization in Western China

China has achieved a remarkable social and economic development since its open-up policy in 1978, but most of the economic activities are concentrated in eastern coastal regions. Western China has played a critical supporting role for economic booms in China during the past decades, including the provision of cheap labor, abundant resources, and hinterland, but the region is largely left behind in terms of its own development. In 2010, the per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) of Western China was less than half of that in Eastern China. Up to 60% of the country's poverty-stricken counties and up to half of the ecologically vulnerable counties are in the western region. In addition, the western region has vulnerable ecological and environmental conditions. Up to 70% of ecologically vulnerable counties in the western region are also poverty-stricken counties, compared to 23% and 41% in Eastern and central China, respectively.1 It is considered time to enhance the feedback to benefit the western region.2

Xiangzheng Deng is a professor at the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Xuemei Bai is a professor at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

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