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Xiongan area's rosy prospects draw workers

(China Daily)    16:40, April 01, 2019

Improved public services among attractions as new zone's focus shifts to construction

Wang Ning has worked in the Xiongan New Area, a new economic zone in North China, for nearly two years and expects to become a permanent Xiongan resident in the future.

Wang, 35, considers herself a "Xiongpiao" - a term she created based on "Beipiao", a description of outsiders who live and work in Beijing but do not have permanent residency.

The accountant at China Railway Xiongan Construction Co came to Xiongan in July 2017, three months after the new area was established in Hebei province. She left behind a new apartment and a stable life 1,300 kilometers away in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, in Northeast China.

Wang is one of the company's 300 employees in Xiongan, 200 of whom are from outside the area. What has attracted them to the huge new economic zone is their belief in the rosy prospects for the Xiongan New Area.

"I came with determination because Xiongan will be one of China's most developed cities in the future, with the best public services," said Wang, who lives with her family in a rented house in the area's Rongcheng county.

By 2035, Xiongan will be built into a high-level modern city that will be green, livable, smart and innovation-driven, with convenient transportation, modern infrastructure and high-quality public services, according to an overall development plan cited by Xinhua News Agency.

Located about 100 kilometers southwest of Beijing, Xiongan was set up in April 2017, covering three counties in Hebei. Its establishment was a key move in China's national strategy for the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

Its main task is to take on Beijing's noncapital functions, including universities, research institutes, medical institutions, corporate headquarters, and financial and public institutions.

The new area can thereby help the capital to ease big city malaise issues such as swelling population and heavy traffic, while Beijing can strengthen its role as a political, cultural, international communication and innovation center.

"The key for the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is to relieve Beijing of noncapital functions and build the Xiongan New Area with a high standard," according to this year's Government Work Report, which was delivered by Premier Li Keqiang on March 5 to the annual plenary session of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

The bright future of Xiongan has attracted numerous "Xiongpiao" like Wang Ning, as well as enterprises that are in line with the area's development direction.

More than 230 corporations from Beijing have transferred to the new area during the past two years, according to Wang Dongfeng, secretary of the Communist Party of China Hebei Provincial Committee.

Among them is Beijing Eyecool Technology Co, a biometric identification company that moved its headquarters from the Zhongguancun technology hub in Beijing to Xiongan in September.

According to company General Manager Zhang Jin, it has started to provide biometric identification services, including facial-scanning access control systems and smart payment systems, in the Xiongan Citizen Service Center and Aowei Mansion, two major locations for local government and company offices.

"We are fortunate to become one of the high-tech companies that have settled down in the new area," Zhang said.

Plans for Xiongan envision it becoming a world-class, innovation-driven city with the layout of high-end and high-tech industries, such as the new generation of information technology, modern life science and biotechnology, new materials, high-end modern services and green ecological agriculture, People's Daily reported.

"While keeping the acceptance of noncapital functions from Beijing as the top priority, Xiongan also eyes the world to absorb innovation resources, especially those Beijing doesn't have yet," Wang Dongfeng, the Hebei Party chief, said during the recent two sessions, the annual plenary meetings of the nation's top legislative and political advisory bodies.

According to Chen Gang, Party chief of Xiongan, a total of 31 plans for the area have been finalized, including an overall plan, a plan for the protection of Baiyangdian - a wetland lake in the area - and 26 plans for various fields such as flood control, anti-seismic measures and comprehensive transportation.

Two years after the zone's establishment, the new area has now shifted its focus from preliminary plans to construction.

"Xiongan is about to reach the full-scale construction stage, and we need to implement the blueprint thoroughly," Chen said last month.

China Xiongan Group, a State-owned company established in 2017 for Xiongan's development, has made about 30 announcements on its website since September for bids to carry out projects.

The projects include the construction of green belts, waste treatment facilities, rail transit stations, urban roads, pipe network systems, offices and hotels.

According to the overall plan, by 2022 the construction of infrastructure will be basically completed and the appearance of an urban area will be initially formed, Xinhua reported.

President Xi Jinping emphasized "Xiongan quality" in February last year, saying the area must become a model of high-quality development for the country.

Chen, the Xiongan Party chief, said, "In the full-scale construction stage, we must stick to scientific construction and strengthen whole-process supervision to ensure the quality of projects."

Wu Hequan, deputy director of the Council of Experts for Coordinated Development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region, told Xinhua that transferring Beijing's noncapital functions is the key test of whether the coordinated development of the region is going smoothly.

Chen said improving public services will be one of the first tasks undertaken to make sure that such functions develop well in Xiongan.

Chen said several schools and medical institutions from Beijing and Tianjin have started to plan projects in the area.

Wang Ning, the accountant, said she will stay in Xiongan because the education for her 10-year-old daughter is gradually improving, as are other public services.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Hongyu)

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