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New municipal blueprint to ease pressure on Beijing's downtown Dec. 20. 2006

The Chinese capital plans to reorganize the functions of its 18 districts and counties in the next five years to ease the pressure on its over-crowded downtown core.

According to its planning body, the city of 16 million will map out four functional areas -- the central urban area, a multi-purpose development area, a new towns area and a green area.

Under a plan released Wednesday by the Municipal Development and Reform Commission, Beijing's increasing urban population will be moved to the outskirts, with the pressure relieved on the management of its downtown core.

Experts believe the plan will facilitate the free flow of capital, technologies and human resources, amid efforts to narrow the economic gap between districts and counties.

The central urban area within the second ring road, which is the core of the 600-year-old ancient capital and the political center of China, will continue to be characterized by a rich cultural heritage.

There are more than 28,000 people per square kilometer in the downtown area, six times the figure for the suburbs, according to a 2005 government report.

The multi-purpose development area centers on the Zhongguancun high-tech zone and the Olympic Central Area in the city's northern part and the Central Business District in the east.

The new towns area will boost economic development in the suburban districts of Tongzhou and Yizhuang and the airport economic zone in Shunyi district.

The green area in the outlying districts and counties will contribute to a better ecological system for the entire Beijing area.

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