China: building for people not profit

China: building for people not profit
Published: 24 November 2010

Improving urban planning and enhancing supervision of the construction industry are desperately needed in China.

Statistics show that complaints about the quality of housing increased from 37.1 per cent in 2008 to 52.5 per cent in 2009.

The repeated reports about serious quality problems with some newly built residential buildings reinforce concerns that the nation’s housing is of poor quality.

Qiu Baoxing, vice-minister of housing and urban-rural development, has said on several occasions that the life span of most Chinese houses is around 30 years.

However, a cluster of buildings intended for low-income residents in suburban Beijing had to be demolished even before they were finished, because substandard concrete was used in their construction. This is not an isolated incident.

At least 10 per cent of the country’s economic growth is supported by the consumption of construction materials. The amount of cement that China consumes annually is nearly 50 per cent of the world total and the amount of steel consumed accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the world total.

Halting the vicious cycle of tearing down short-lived buildings and erecting new ones of poor quality is one of the major challenges to transforming the development mode, which the central government and Party leadership identified as one of the major targets of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015).