Beijing: With China poised to transform from a rural society to that of an urban one due to massive movement of people to cities, Chinese officials say that more than half of the country`s present residential structures would be demolished and rebuilt in the next 20 years to gain space and for safety reasons.
Homes built before 1999 will be dismantled to make way for new development during the next two decades.
Chen Huai, director of the policy research the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said.
Only some historical relics that deserve protection will be spared the wrecking ball, state run `China Daily` quoted him as saying.
Buildings constructed before 1949 have long passed their designed lifespan of 50 years.
Many of those built between 1949 and 1979, for historical reasons, were essentially makeshift and met basic needs for housing during a difficult time but were not meant to be used for the long-term, he said.
"Given China`s fast economic development and pace of urbanisation, houses built between 1979 and 1999 cannot meet the demands of modern living, either because of limited space or a lack of supporting facilities.
Only those homes built after 1999 are likely to be preserved in the longer term," he said.
According to the latest figures, China`s urban population is set to overtake its rural population for the first time by 2015, with the number of people living in towns and cities set to top 700 million.
The population of China which is currently over 1.3 billion is expected to touch 1.4 billion by 2015.
Chen`s assertions also sparked fresh questions about the short lifespan of Chinese buildings, the report said.
Poor-quality houses are not a new problem in China and have been talked about for many years, he said.
In recent years, the country has had up to two billion square metres of development annually.
Each year, China uses 40 percent of the world`s cement and steel, the main ingredients of the construction industry.
Around 40 percent of building land is created every year by the demolition of older developments.
But both experts and industry watchers have questioned the rapid speed of demolition and reconstruction, suggesting poor building practices and a lack of consistent urban planning, along with a blind pursuit of economic gain on the part of developers, are the real reasons for the relatively short lifespan of buildings.
In April, Qiu Baoxing, vice-minister of the ministry, said during an industry forum that Chinese buildings can only stand for between 25 and 30 years.