11/23/2018, 15.06
CHINA
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Beijing loses almost a million residents

The capital lost about 3 per cent of its population in three years. In 2017, it had 21.7 million people. Now the authorities want to cap the population at 23 million by 2020. To avoid over-population, the city has restricted residency, demolished informal housing and decentralised production.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – For the first time in 20 years, the population of the Chinese capital has dropped, this according to an official report.

The number of Beijing’s permanent residents stood at 21.707 million in 2017, 22,000 fewer than in 2016, but over the past three years, the city lost some 740,000 permanent residents, says the Standing Committee of Beijing Municipal People’s Congress.

The number of residents in the city’s six districts dropped by 3 per cent in 2016 and 2017 over the three-year period.

Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics spokesman Pang Jiangqian attributes the trend to various factors such as the drop in China's working age population and the slowdown in migration from rural areas.

However, the decline in the number of residents falls in line with the city’s plan to tackle “big city diseases” such as congested roads and pollution, among others.

In the past 20 years, the city’s population had risen by two thirds and with it the energy consumption.

The number of vehicles had also tripled, pushing the government to cap its population at 23 million by 2020, which translates to 15 per cent below 2014 levels.

Government officials have also sought to slow migration to the biggest cities by putting caps on residency permits that give people access to schools, community services and hospitals, as well as by tearing down informal housing often used by workers who move from other regions.

For the authorities, part of the solution to overpopulation involves integrating the local economy with that of neighbouring province of Hebei and the port city of Tianjin via the relocation of wholesale businesses and industries away from the capital.

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