From: Reuters
Published January 22, 2008 01:13 AM

Beijing population tops 16 mln target 2 years early

BEIJING (Reuters) - Olympic Games host Beijing, scrambling to provide water and infrastructure for its burgeoning population, has exceeded its target population of 16 million two years early, state media reported on Tuesday.

The number of permanent residents in the capital of the world's most populous country reached 16.33 million at the end of 2007, an increase of 520,000 on the previous year, the Beijing statistics bureau said on its Web site.

The population, comprising 12.13 million residents carrying "hukou," or residence permits, and some 4.2 million migrant workers, had surpassed the city's 2010 ceiling of 16 million two years early, official Web portal Chinanews.com.cn said.

The 2007 increase was the fastest in five years for Beijing, which has become a magnet for migrant workers seeking work on massive infrastructure projects for the Olympic Games opening in August.

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Beijing's municipal government announced last year it would limit its population to 18 million by 2020.

But in December, a senior population expert warned that Beijing's population had already reached over 17 million, highlighting the difficulty of reining in population growth from China's mobile population of surplus rural workers.

Beijing's acting mayor Guo Jinlong this week said the "resource and environmental problems" brought by the city's soaring population were its "most pressing issue" going forward, the report said.

Experts have warned that Beijing has already 3 million more people than its resources can feed. An extra 2.5 million visitors are expected to descend on the capital during the Olympics.

Beijing has spent billions of yuan building a huge canal to bring back-up water from reservoirs in neighboring Hebei. But, the scheme has drawn complaints from Hebei lawmakers who say farmers and factories in the also-parched province are not receiving adequate compensation.

Take a look at the Countdown to Beijing Olympics blog at http://blogs.reuters.com/china

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