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Ambassador Fu Ying Discusses with Scholars of Manchester University on Transformation of Old Industrial Cities

On March 31, Ambassador Fu Ying held an informal discussion with scholars of Manchester University on transformation and revitalization of the old industrial cities during her visit to Manchester. Brian Robson, director of the Urban Policies Research Center of Manchester University, Professor Alan Harding, director of Political and Economic Governance Research Institute, Professor Liu Hong with China Studies Center, Wayne Shand, director of Economic and Urban Policies Department of the Municipal Chamber of Manchester as well as Gong Jianzhong, Consul General to Manchester, were present at the discussion.

Fu Ying remarked that as the first industrialized country in the world, the Britain had gone through the whole process of industrialization, accumulated a wealth of experience and lessons in industrialization and made great achievements in transformation and revitalization of the old industrial cities. China, at the stage of a high-speed growth in industrialization and urbanization, should learn and draw upon the Britain's experience in industrialization especially urban transformation and revitalization so as to avoid making the same mistakes in industrialization as the developed countries once did. It is useful for China's development in the future.

The British scholars introduced the experience and lessons of Manchester city and even the Britain in city revitalization. They said that in the 1980s, the old industrial cities suffered from economic depression, enormous unemployment and increased poverty, which became long-standing problems impeding the economic growth of Britain. After years of efforts, the old industrial cities including Manchester have succeeded in industrial transformation and regained the leading position in bringing along the economic growth in Britain. In addition, the development of the cities has given impetus to the prosperity of the regions in which they are located.

The British scholars further elaborated the Britain's experience in the transformation and revitalization of the old industrial cities as follows:

First, long-term and consistent policies should be implemented. Since the transformation and revitalization of the old industrial cities was most complicated, it could not be accomplished by one single effort. For example, it took over 40 years of efforts to achieve the revitalization of theManchester city. During the process, efforts should be made to continually and constantly implement long-term programs instead of short-term ones.

Secondly, a cooperative mechanism should be established with wide participation by the public and private sectors. Since the role of the government was limited, efforts must be made to help the enterprises, civil association, communities and public to full participation and bring their initiatives into full play. Policy must make the market system play a better role in the city revitalization instead of meddling in it.

Thirdly, all-round consideration should be made in formulating policies. Some cities often took only single goal into consideration when designing urban policies. But since a minor part of the urban policies might lead to comparatively major and long-term consequences, special attention must be paid to the incidental effects of the policies and coordination between various factors.

Fourthly, strategic viewpoint should be adopted. The policy-makers must work out a long-range plan for the future of city and consistently promote the implementation of the plan. For example, the Manchester city made great efforts to develop two particular industries at an earlier time. One was the sports industry. The Manchester city had enormous intangible assets such as the "Manchester United" football team. In addition, the sports industry had been greatly developed by hosting 2002 Commonwealth Games and applying for holding the Olympic Games. The other was the scientific advantage. Impetus had been given to the development of scientific and technological industry by establishing the New Manchester University and so on.

The British scholars continued that the Britain was also facing a big number of problems and challenges in urban transformation and revitalization. First, the polarization between the poor and rich was extremely serious in some cities. For example, the central and southern Manchester city were comparatively well off, however the north-eastern district was very poor. Secondly, it was difficult for a number of cities depending on single industry to revitalize themselves. Thirdly, the regional development was imbalanced within the Britain. The districts adjacent to London were developing quickly, so did Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. However, other cities were making mediocre performance. Fourthly, it was still disputable whether the urban transformation should be led by the central government or the local ones.

Fu Ying extended her gratitude to the British scholars and emphasized that China had been confronted with quite a few of economic and social problems during the process of industrialization, including those troubling the newly-emerging cities in rapid growth and those occurred in the transformation and revitalization of the old industrial cities. To this end, China put forward the scientific outlook on development based upon the human-centered, all-round, coordinated and sustainable approach and carried out the strategies of revitalizing the old industrial bases such as the north-east China. Fu Ying wished exchange of experience in this issue would be improved between both countries.