Though fast-growing China has created a lot of wonders in the
past more than 30 years of reform and opening up, the achievements
of its Liaoning Province's ambitious shantytown renovation project
still deserve much attention.
The northeastern province began to rebuild state-owned
industrial and mining shantytowns on a large scale at the beginning
of 2005. By the end of last year, it had renovated 29.1 million
square meters of shantytowns. The floor area of newly built
apartments totaled 44.02 million square meters, solving housing
problems for 2.11 million residents.
Liaoning was one of the earliest industrial powerhouses of
China. But even in its prime in the 1950s to 1980s, local
state-owned enterprises, especially coal mines in cities such as
Fushun, Benxi, Fuxin and Chaoyang, didn't provide enough houses for
their workers because more emphasis was placed on production than
At the end of 2004, the province had nearly 1.6 million people
living in shantytowns without basic living facilities such as tap
water, central heating and paved roads. The plight of shantytown
residents prompted the government to provide them with better
With characteristics of large scale, short time, large
population, high proportion of completion, high return rate and
satisfaction, the area of renovated shantytowns in Liaoning is
almost twice the average number per year required by the UN's
Millennium Development Goals.
Along with the renovations, new employment opportunities were
also created for unemployed populations previously living in
A survey among former shantytown residents shows their
satisfaction with the improvement in housing conditions, supporting
facilities, recreation and mental attitude are very high.
The development of low-income settlements is now a worldwide
concern. According to statistics of the UN Human Settlements
Programme, people living in slums accounted for a quarter of urban
population throughout the world, totaling 827.6 million, and the
figure is rising.
The shantytown renovation project in Liaoning, with the lead of
the government, also made full use of the market's function in
fundraising and many other fields. In this sense, it's a great case
study for the international community.