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September 20, 2011

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Outlying districts grow fast as downtown core loses people

SIX of Shanghai's outlying districts saw population growth of more than 5 percent last year while six downtown districts shrank, according to detailed figures released yesterday based on the latest national census data.

The population flow is in line with the city's plan to control the number of people living downtown and encourage more residents to move outside the central core.

The districts of Baoshan, Fengxian, Qingpu, Jiading, Minhang and Songjiang saw populations last year ranging from 5.07 percent to 9.45 percent higher than in 2009, while the number of residents of the Pudong New Area rose by 4.7 percent.

With 5.04 million residents, Pudong is the biggest district. Its official population includes those with registered residency and migrants staying in the city for over six months.

In the seven outlying districts, migrants comprised 40 percent to 59 percent of the total population.

The downtown districts of Hongkou, Changning, Jing'an, Huangpu and former Luwan had population decreases, as did Chongming County, which dropped by 1.77 percent. The rest of the city districts saw small rises in population.

The Shanghai government has worked out a 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) to boost development of the suburban satellite cities of Jiading, Songjiang, Jinshan, Nanqiao and Lingang, while identifying four zones to improve suburban population density and relieve the pressure on downtown areas.

While stabilizing the population inside the Outer Ring Road, the government wants to expand population outside the road and north to the Huangpu and Dazhi rivers. This zone, which contains the satellite cities, is expected to have a population of 9 million by 2020 through the creation of more residential complexes and the building of more subway lines.

The local population commission said the satellite cities were not yet playing as important a role as similar areas do in major foreign cities.

Policy makers want to stabilize the population in the third zone of Shanghai's outskirts, which excludes the second zone and most of Chongming County, while they plan to move 10,000 people out of the fourth zone, which includes natural reserves in Chongming County, to better protect the natural environment.

Zuo Xuejin of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences said it's hard for Shanghai to control its total population (as the labor force is naturally attracted by its economy), but it can lead the population flow to new cities on the outskirts.

Most of the population rise over the past 10 years has taken place in the outskirts and that trend will continue, as the suburban population density remains low, with much space for further development.

Zuo said infrastructure such as transit, health services, education, entertainment and commercial facilities must be enhanced to better attract population out of downtown.

Shanghai, among the world's largest cities, had 23.02 million residents last year, including 9 million migrant people, according to the census. Rising population and uneven distribution of people are two major problems the city faces.


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