China will more strictly police the expansion of cities to stop the spread of highly developed but sparsely populated cities or districts known as ghost towns, the state-backed Beijing News reported on Friday.
Dong Zuoji, head of the Ministry of Land and Resources planning bureau, said new guidance issued by the ministry on Thursday would allow for strict controls on new urban development.
Unless a city’s population is too dense or expansion is deemed necessary to cope with natural disasters, new urban districts will not be permitted, he said.
Population density, the efficiency of land use and the impact on natural resources and the environment would determine the planning of new urban districts, he said.
Dong vowed the ministry would “strictly” regulate new urban areas.
There is no data on how many ghost towns exist, but several have received media and public attention, particularly Erdos in Inner Mongolia, where a highly developed district became known for its deserted streets and empty flats.
Hurt by unsteady exports, a housing downturn and cooling investment growth, the world’s second-largest economy has wobbled this year, raising doubts about whether it can grow by about 7.5 per cent in 2014 as targeted by Beijing, or whether it may be at risk of a sharper slowdown.
(Reporting By Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Robert Birsel)
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