Xiongan model of development for new era#China Newsweek#-Sino-US

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Xiongan model of development for new era

The Xiongan New Area in North China’s Hebei province that was announced about a year ago has been placed at a significantly high position, after the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and the Shanghai Pudong New Area.

After decades of fast economic growth, China is expected to move up the global production chain and aim for green and high-quality growth. Xiongan New Area has been labeled as a new model for such development in the new era.

In April, a master plan for Xiongan, around 100 kilometers southwest to Beijing, was announced. The new area will be built into a low-carbon, intelligent and livable city to shoulder Beijing’s non-capital functions by 2035.

In the 16th issue of 2018, the China Newsweek magazine ran a cover story on the master plan, the stories behind it and the future shape of Xiongan.

After 20 months of compilation, the master plan document for Xiongan New Area was published on April 21, which marks the beginning of the construction of the new area.

The plan spells out details about Xiongan’s future layout, city landscape, ecology and environment, industries, public services, transportation network, infrastructure facilities and city security system.

According to the plan, Xiongan will develop into a modern city, green, intelligent, livable and in sync with nature by 2035, and by the middle of the century, it will be a significant part of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei city cluster.

Yang Baojun, president of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, said that the plan provides the fundamental guideline on the planning and development of Xiongan.

The publishing of the master plan shows that a consensus has been reached on a series of key issues affecting the development of the new area, Yang said. The government should implement the plan till the end, according to the plan.

China’s economic development model is changing from high speed to high quality, and urban development is changing from Shenzhen’s speed-centric model to Xiongan’s focus on quality. Xiongan will serve as an example for other cities to follow.

Through a series of measures, Xiongan, with an area of 1,770 square kilometers, is expected to get rid of the traditional model and realize inclusive growth.

Multi-center layout

To avoid the “big city malaise” brought by the “flatbread” development, Xiongan will adopt the development pattern of spacial groups, setting limits on the construction, scale and population density, according to the plan.

According to the new area’s spacial layout, there will be a starting area, and five circling groups comprising the current towns of Rongcheng, Xiongxian, Anxin, Zhaili and Zangang and some small towns and villages.

Li Xiaojiang, a member of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei coordinated development expert consultation committee, said that developing spacial groups means having a multi-center layout that is different from Beijng’s single-center layout.

Each group will occupy 20 to 30 square kilometers, accommodating about 200,000 to 300,000 people. Each will have a residential area, public service facilities and industrial area. Seventy to 80 percent of residents have no need to travel out of the group to work, which will help prevent urban problems such as traffic jams.

Yin Huiliang, a director of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, said that the starting area is located at northwestern Xiongan, between Rongcheng and Anxin.

The geological terrain of Xiongan is high in the north and low in the south, and the planning takes into account the terrain to plan the urban area in the north, then wetland and forests, and the Baiyangdian Lake in the south, Yin said.

Yin said that Xiongan also adopts the traditional concept of urban central axis, from north to south and from east to west, in the central spacial group, which is dubbed as Fangcheng, or square city.

He said that the axis will serve as the frame of the urban space, embodying urban culture and public life. The north-south axis will show the historic cultural ecology, and the east-west axis will be home to innovative forces and headquarters.

Under the ground along the east-west axis, there will be the intercity rail transportation system, to connect Xiongan with Beijing, Tianjin and Shijiazhuang by 30-minute commute routes.

According to the plan, Xiongan will perform the non-capital functions of Beijing, providing good public services, bringing together Internet, big data, artificial intelligence, frontier information technology, biotechnology and modern finance, and developing headquarters economy.

Yang Baojun said that the new area will not build skyscrapers and odd buildings, and it will combine featured designs for different regions, creating an ambience of diversity and vitality.

‘Blue and green spaces’

When the central authorities initiated the foundation of the new area in 2016, ecological protection was set as a high priority, targeting a green and livable city.

According to the plan, the construction land will only account for 30 percent of the whole new area, and the forest coverage rate will rise from 11 percent to 40 percent. The Baiyangdian Lake will be restored to 360 square kilometers.

Yin said that the limits on ecological environment will help create harmony between humans and nature.

In order to create a beautiful natural ecological environment, the plan provides for an ecological pattern of “one lake, three belts, nine patches and multiple corridors.”

The lake is the Baiyangdian Lake; three belts means green belt around Baiyangdian Lake, green belt around the starting area and green belt around the new area; nine patches means nine large forest patches; and multiple corridors means green ecological corridors along rivers and traffic lines.

Qu Jiuhui from the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that the protection and pollution treatment of Baiyangdian is the core of the new area’s ecological planning.

Qu, who leads the work on developing plans for Baiyangdian, said that the guiding principles behind planning of the lake are “water supply, pollution control, relocation and dredging.”

In Qu’s view, Baiyangdian is facing three problems: lack of water which has led to the shrinking of the lake area to 150 square kilometers; pollution caused by the polluted water from the upper reaches and habitat fragmentation which has reduced the self-purification capacity.

According to the plan, Baiyangdian will get water supply from reservoirs and Yellow River to maintain its water level of about 6.5 to 7 meters deep. Cooperative measures are urged for controlling polluted water from reaching the upper reaches. A national park will also be established there.

Qu said that the pollution treatment of Baiyangdian will set an example in the country, since many waters across China have similar problems of Baiyangdian, and the measures used could be demonstrative and representative.

Life circle and industry

On the public services, Xiongan will follow the rule of “small blocks and dense road network,” effectively easing traffic congestion and meeting social communication functions, according to the plan.

The new area will build the three-level public service facilities system from city to group to communities, forming a multi-level, comprehensive and human-centric basic public service network.

Xiongan will shoulder Beijing’s regional public service function, such as hosting first-class universities, national research institutions, museums, basic education facilities, hospitals, theaters, and shared public services centers.

The public service facilities in groups will shoulder urban integrated service function, providing full-scale, full-time comprehensive services, such as culture, education, medical care, sports, entertainment and commercial services.

The public service facilities in communities will shoulder the daily life service function, framing high-quality environment for people to live and work.

Yin said Xiongan’s roads will serve people’s life in priority, then public transport system, and the last for private cars. Solving the traffic jam problem could not only rely on increasing the density of road network but also a series of policies.

According to the plan, Xiongan will be at the forefront of cutting-edge technology, focusing on the industries of information technology, modern life science and biotechnology, new materials, high-end modern service and eco-agriculture.

Xiongan is expected to build the artificial intelligence and innovation platforms, making breakthroughs in the unmanned system intelligent technology and establishing a demonstration area of internet-connected vehicles.

In December, seven driverless vehicles from Baidu Inc ran four kilometers in the debut show of automatic driving vehicles in Anxin county town. Experts anticipate that Xiongan will be the first city of driverless vehicles in China.

According to the plan, by 2035, the R&D investment will account for 6 percent of Xiongan’s GDP, and the spending on basic research will account for 18 percent of the investment.

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