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Rapid Urbanization: The Environmental Cost and the Way Forward

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Chapter Summary

The "Top Five" environmental challenges facing Chinese cities today affect people's basic living conditions. These challenges are air, water, food, traffic, and garbage. Since ongoing, rapid urbanization in China has sparked an environmental crisis, there is an urgent need for us to rethink the way to urbanize. The accelerated urbanization in western regions as part of China's Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) poses a particularly tough challenge. Behind China's great achievements in economic development over the decades lies the environmental cost of this rapid urbanization. From the perspectives of the public and mainstream media, however, it seems that the environmental cost has long been associated with resource-rich remote areas where the victims are usually wildlife or the rural population. While benefiting from an unfair system characterized by the urban-rural divide, people in Chinese cities seemingly have nothing to do with this cost.

Keywords: China; environmental crisis; rapid urbanization; Twelfth Five-Year Plan



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