Xiong’an New Area is a wide stretch of land just outside of Beijing, selected by China’s president Xi Jinping as part of his “thousand-year” bold plan. He aims to transform it into a dream capital city filled with brand new technologies and innovative creations.
The Xiong’an district will seek companies focused on information technology (IT), new energy and materials, and even biotechnology. Chen Gang, the district party chief of Hebei province, says these companies will be provided various benefits and incentives so they may establish operations in the president’s dream city.
Known as the Jing-Jin-Ji plan, the creation of the Xiong’an New Area is only one of president Xi’s main initiatives – the other being the Belt & Road Initiative (formerly the One Belt, One Road or OBOR initiative), a $1 trillion infrastructure project of having trains and international commerce on the maritime Silk Road.
From Anonymous to Astonishing
The announcement of Xiong’an has led to many investors flocking to the site, a formerly anonymous area a stone’s throw away from China’s current, yet smog-clouded capital. The new city covers an area that is nearly three times the size of New York, based on plans announced by the Communist party’s top leaders in late 2017.
The Xiong’an New Area will be approximately 100 square kilometers (nearly 39 square miles) combined, straddling three counties located 100 kilometers southwest of Beijing. They described it as “a strategy crucial for a millennium to come.” The three counties, Xiong, Rongcheng, and Anxin, is set to expand and cover 2,000 square kilometers (nearly 775 square miles) – a 20-fold expansion that rivals the size of Shenzen.
Xinhua News Agency, China’s official press agency, reported that the creation of Xi’s dream city would relieve pressure on Beijing, the country’s capital, overflowing with 22 million residents and clogged with car-clogged traffic issues. According to their report, this project is the answer to China’s growth issue, and will “usher in a new chapter in the country’s historic transitioning to coordinated, inclusive and sustainable growth.”
“More than a mere replica of China’s past success … it will tell the tale of the future of a new city,” the Xinhua agency reported.
Chen said a lot of companies are interested in squeezing themselves into the project. However, he urged that they “will be selective” in approving which companies get to join in. “We will also help some local companies transform,” he said, “because there’s still a local population of 1.28 million people in the Xiongan area, who may not all be able to perform hi-tech jobs.”
“We welcome big data, internet technology, mobile technology and biotech companies,” Xu affirmed. “We will coordinate local resources and companies to integrate with these advance tech companies.”
The new city’s estimated growth in physical size also points to total investments that may reach up to 2.4 trillion yuan (approximately $362 billion US) within the next 20 years, based on estimates from Morgan Stanley. The district is still a blank page, filled with little financial and industrial support, as well as weak infrastructure. This is a good thing, as this “blank sheet of paper” is a “thousand-year strategy” according to Chen.
With their plans of carefully curating this bold idea, Xiong’an plans on offering premium public services. This includes education, housing, and medical services that rival those available in Shenzhen and other major cities competing for investments and flow of talents.
President Xi’s vision of the dream city that it may end up as a demonstration of China’s innovative development, which he believes should not only focus on technological advancements, but also ecological protection and the improvement of people’s wellbeing.
The People’s Republic of China has, in recent years, created dozens of “new” cities and areas as efforts in massive urbanization. This series of bold moves has allowed hundreds of millions of people flocking to cities, and Xiong’an New Area is no stranger to the concept. Compared to previous investments and efforts by the country, such as the constructions for the 2008 Beijing Olympics (290 billion yuan) and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo (28.6 billion yuan), Xiong’an New Area may bring in as many as 6.7 million people over the next 10 years along with a projected investment of 1.2 to 2.4 trillion yuan, which is impressive yet achievable.