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January 26, 2010

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Beijing a 'world city' by 2050

NO longer content to be an international city, Beijing intends to become a "world city," Mayor Guo Jinlong said yesterday.

Guo announced the plan on the opening day of the third session of the 13th Beijing Municipal People's Congress.

The government hoped to achieve the transformation of Beijing into a world city by 2050, Huang Yan, director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning, was quoted as saying by yesterday's Beijing Youth Daily.

Huang said a world city usually had a global influence in terms of politics, economy and culture, and Beijing met some of the criteria.

By the end of 2009, Beijing's service sector had accounted for 75.8 percent of its economy, approximately the minimum level of a world city.

The annual throughput of the Beijing Capital International Airport had hit 60 million passengers, making it the world's fourth largest airport, Huang said.

The national capital, however, lagged far behind its foreign counterparts such as New York, London and Tokyo in various aspects, she said.

The international community generally regarded a world city as having a per-capita gross domestic product exceeding US$15,000 a year, while Beijing had just surpassed the US$10,000 mark in 2009, she said.

Only a handful of influential international organizations based their headquarters in Beijing, while London boasted 57.

Beijing also lacked world-renowned cultural communities and activities, and was backward in the research and development of high-tech products with independent intellectual property rights.

Despite all the deficiencies, "the time is now ripe for Beijing to gear up for becoming a world city," said Lian Yuming, head of the Beijing-based International Institute for Urban Development.

The city had greatly enhanced its global impact by hosting the 2008 Olympics, Lian said.

Meanwhile, Beijing is to extend its 12 Metro lines and open more express bus lanes this year in order to get more people out of their cars and onto public transport, the mayor told the congress.


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