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River deltas home to richest towns
Latest Updated by 2006-10-16 17:28:03
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China's richest rural areas are concentrated in the coastal Pearl River and Yangtze River deltas, according to the latest ranking of the nation's top 1,000 towns.

Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, together with Shanghai, have 746 towns on the list, released on Saturday by the National Bureau of Statistics.

The country's wealthiest town is Yushan Town, in Jiangsu's Kunshan, followed by Humen Town in Guangdong's Dongguan and Yushan Town in Changshu, also in Jiangsu.

At the National Township Development Forum, held on Saturday in Xiaoshan in East China's Zhejiang Province, Zhang Weiming, deputy director of the bureau, said that living standards in the top 1,000 towns had enjoyed a notable improvement over the past two years.

According to him, per capita average annual net income in the 1,000 towns reached 7,735 yuan (US$967) in 2005, a growth of 20 per cent over 2003.

Per capita saving deposits reached 15,000 yuan (US$1,875), an increase of 29.5 per cent over 2003, and 3.5 times as much as the national average.

The percentage of the population with basic medical insurance increased by 66.7 per cent over 2003.

Zheng Jingping, an expert from the bureau, said China's richest towns are still concentrated in the Yangtze River and the Pearl River deltas.

Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces have the two largest shares of the top 1,000 towns, with Jiangsu having 275 and Zhejiang 266.

According to the bureau, the 1,000 richest towns account for only 2.3 per cent of the nation's total townships, and 10 per cent of the total township population.

However, they make up 54.1 per cent of the whole township financial revenues.

The average financial revenue of the top 1,000 towns reached 241 million yuan (US$30 million) in 2005, 11 times as much as the national township average.

While the deltas still dominate the top 1,000 list, the number of rich towns in northern provinces has also increased substantially.

Fengnan Town in Hebei Province, at No 10, is the only northern town to make it into the top 10.

But three more towns in Hebei Province, plus two in Shandong Province, and one each from Liaoning Province and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region are in the top 100.

But despite the growth in wealth, there were still weaknesses in township development, said Zhang.

Most of the towns lack a long-term development plan, and many are home to industries which pollute the environment, waste natural resources and take up valuable agricultural land.

Meanwhile, the towns' social security systems are generally incomplete and fall short of acceptable standards, especially for rural residents, he said.

Editor: Yan

By: Guan XiaofengSource: China Daily Website
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