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BEIJING, China, November 25, 2013 (ENS) – The European Union and China are working together to improve urban mobility. Hundreds of European and Chinese city mayors as well as academics and business representatives with an interest in the future of urbanization gathered in Beijing at the Second EU China Urban Forum Thursday through Saturday to share ideas and identify future co-operation activities.
In his keynote address on opening day in the Great Hall of the People, European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas said, “The impact of our urbanization efforts goes beyond European and Chinese domestic interests. We need to ensure the sustainable development of our cities not only for our citizens and our economies but because our cities have a global impact on environment, resources and greenhouse gas emissions – with significant geo-political consequences.”
Tianjin, Shenzhen and 10 other Chinese cities signed partnership agreements with European cities and organizations during the forum.
“China expects more EU countries and cities as well as enterprises and organizations to establish close and practical partnership with their Chinese counterparts,” said Xu Shaoshi, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planner.
Kallas said, “Cities are and always will be places of exchange: exchange of goods and ideas. Cities will be the drivers of economic growth in the 21st Century – but there is a risk that the quality of life in cities deteriorates, making them unattractive, inefficient and socially divisive.”
“Together Europe and China can lead the way towards sustainable urbanization and create a win-win situation for our citizens, business and the environment,” said Kallas, who is in charge of transport for the European Union. Improving urban mobility to increase the accessibility and attractiveness of urban areas is a major challenge in both Europe and China, he said.
The European Commission – in consultation with the EU Chamber of Commerce in China – has agreed with the Chinese government to focus on co-operation in: public transport operations and management, congestion management, sustainable urban mobility planning and urban road safety.
Europe is widely regarded as having excellent urban mobility expertise and technologies, while China, with its large and rapidly expanding cities, is the world’s largest market for urban mobility goods and services.
Over the past year European and Chinese experts have worked together to prepare policy recommendations to present to the Chinese leadership to help the Chinese State Council set the right course for urban mobility in China.
Because of its rapid urbanization and scale, said Kallas, China has a special responsibility but also a unique opportunity. “If China chooses the right path it can be a global leader in urbanization and a model for rapidly urbaniaing countries throughout the world.”
Kallas called on the audience of mayors to “make a special effort to bridge the gap between Europe and China, so that we can avoid the problems of chaotic, unmanaged urbanization and build healthy, safe and prosperous cities and through our work together lead the way to sustainable urbanization throughout the world...."