China and European Union (EU) has made another step forward in enhancing their strategic partnership as cities and organizations of the two parties agreed to join hands in tapping China's growing urbanization market. Tianjin, Shenzhen and 10 other Chinese cities have signed partnership agreements with European cities and organizations during the 2013 China-EU Urbanization Partnership Forum held this week in Beijing. "China expects more EU countries and cities as well as enterprises and organizations to establish close and practical partnership with their Chinese counterparts," said Xu Shaoshi, head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner. Xu made the remarks at the forum, which was part of the 2013 EU-China Exhibition on Urban Development held Wednesday to Saturday in Beijing that featured over 200 exhibitors including cities, design consulting firms and infrastructure service providers. Building smart, green and low carbon cities are the global trend in urbanization, as well as EU's strengths and China's development goal, Xu said. Although China and EU are in different urbanization phases, but they face similar challenges and have great space for cooperation, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said at the forum. China looks to tap its mass urbanization to facilitate economic upgrading and sustainable growth, as the recently-concluded key reform meeting of the Communist Party of China called for more market participation in accelerating the country's human-oriented urbanization. EU now has about three quarters of its population urbanized, with leading experience in city planning, infrastructure services and management. China's urbanization drive accelerated after 1978 due to continued market-oriented reform and rapid economic growth. Now over 52.6 percent of its population living in cities, and the rate is expected to reach about 60 percent by 2020. "China's mass urbanization means a huge market, with about nine hundred million people to be urbanized within the next decade," said Li Tie, director general of China Center for Urban Development under the NDRC. According to Catherine Luo, Associate Principal Planner of ATKINS Beijing, an urban planning and consultancy firm, more Chinese cities look for professional consulting on resource-efficient and environmentally friendly city planning and infrastructure construction, The landmark high-speed railway station in East China's Xuzhou City, one of China's key transportation hubs, is the product of ATKINS and Xuzhou city government, Luo said. However, Li Tie said that it is eventually up to enterprises to meet the growing demand for better city planning, infrastructure and services apart from the support of governments. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said earlier that China is willing to learn from the European Union (EU) in its push towards urbanization, while urging the two sides to deepen cooperation in many aspects, especially among enterprises, to jointly improve city design, public services and historical and cultural relic preservation. Enterprises with different industrial focuses could contribute to economic competitiveness, environmental protection and social inclusiveness through their own strengths, said Shen Xuejun, Senior Vice President of Simens and General Manager of Region East and Competence Cities Asia.