From vision to reality, China's futuristic city spearheads reform, innovation

(Xinhua) 16:22, December 14, 2023

SHIJIAZHUANG, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Xiong'an Railway Station, shaped like a dew on a lotus leaf, may appear as an architectural marvel to many, but for engineer Wu Yadong, it represents over 700 days and nights of unwavering dedication and dreams.

When Wu arrived in Xiong'an New Area in north China's Hebei Province in late 2018, she faced an enormous task -- building a railway station with a construction area of 475,200 square meters, equivalent to 66 soccer fields, in just two years.

Today, the railway station project has become a reality. This remarkable station has been operational since December 2020, and plays a pivotal role in connecting the capital city of Beijing and Xiong'an, the "city of the future."

"It is the first major infrastructure project in Xiong'an, a testament to the area's ever-evolving transformation," said Wu, the project's chief engineer.

In April 2017, China announced a plan to establish Xiong'an New Area, which spans the Rongcheng, Anxin, and Xiongxian counties and some adjacent areas. Its creation is regarded as "a strategy that will have lasting importance for the millennium to come and a significant national event."

A key move to advance the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Xiong'an has been designed as a major recipient of functions transferred from Beijing that are not essential to its role as China's capital. The process is an opportunity to explore a new model of development in densely populated areas.

At a meeting of the Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform in July 2018, Xiong'an was granted greater powers to carry out reforms and take the lead in trials in innovative development, urban governance and public service.

In just six years, Xiong'an was transformed from a blueprint into reality, with 3,800-plus buildings rising from the previously barren lowlands and shabby villages. Some 100 km away from Beijing, the new area is easily accessible by car or train. The ride by high-speed train from Beijing takes less than an hour and normally costs only 30 to 60 yuan (about 8.41 U.S. dollars).


Eyecool, an artificial intelligence firm from Beijing's Zhongguancun, known as China's "Silicon Valley," established its headquarters in Xiong'an in 2018.

Li Qiang, general manager of Eyecool's Xiong'an department, said the company settled in Xiong'an because it was designed to be a city of innovation from the very start.

In just a few years, he and his team have undertaken numerous projects, including biometric demonstrations, smart security and smart campuses, contributing to the implementation of over 30 intelligent scenes.

"Friends and job-seekers have often asked me questions like 'What is Xiong'an like?' and 'What are its prospects?'," said Li. "I always tell them that it's a land of promise, especially for young entrepreneurs."

To date, Xiong'an has completed a total investment of over 610 billion yuan, with a development area covering 178 square km. China's centrally-administered state-owned enterprises have established more than 200 subsidiaries and branches in the area.

To spur innovation, a raft of institutional reforms has been made, including new mechanisms to improve fund-raising for construction, ensure housing supply and make it easier to start businesses in Xiong'an.

As its latest initiative to attract talent, Xiong'an launched generous incentives for top scientists, including 20 to 50 million yuan for research, a 3 million yuan living allowance, and a residence of at least 200 square meters. Additionally, the measures include an entry-exit green channel for foreign talent, offering talent visas and work-related residence permits.

"We will further enhance the innovative and entrepreneurial environment to attract more talent and transform Xiong'an into a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship in the new era," said Ni Yuefeng, secretary of the Hebei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China.


China's leadership has pledged to build Xiong'an into an innovative, green, smart and world-class city with blue skies, fresh air and clean water, in line with the country's high-quality development path.

Visitors to the new area are greeted by a host of visionary scenes. Autonomous buses are undergoing road tests in the Rongdong area, home to 153 km of "digital roads." These roads, equipped with sensors on over 6,000 lamp poles, support autonomous driving and traffic monitoring to alleviate congestion.

Significant infrastructure, including major roads, main streets and the urban water system, has taken shape here. Utilities like electricity, communications, heating, gas and water supplies are efficiently managed through 47.6 km of underground channels, eliminating above-ground cable clutter and road disruptions.

Since late 2017, Xiong'an has added more than 470,000 mu (about 31,333 hectares) of trees, increasing its forest coverage from 11 to 34.6 percent. Residents will have convenient access to a park within 300 meters of their homes, a tree belt within 1 km, and a forest within 3 km, according to the urban planning outline.

Recent advancements have sparked further interest in the new area. Construction work is underway on new campuses for four Beijing-based universities, and the Xiong'an branch of Xuanwu Hospital, under the Capital Medical University, has started trial operations.

For Zhao Can, an employee of Hebei Xiong'an Urban Construction Co., Ltd., it is not just the promises of the future but the present-day improvements that make Xiong'an an attractive place to live and work.

"There are more parks, restaurants, shopping malls and coffee stores," said Zhao, who once worked in Beijing and Hebei's Baoding. "Xiong'an is a young city with great potential, and I plan to settle down here."

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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