Xi lauds Xiong'an's miraculous transformation, urges new progress
Future city a vivid display of the Chinese way of modernization in all aspects: observers
Published: May 11, 2023 12:09 AM Updated: May 11, 2023 12:21 AM
Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects the Xiong'an New Area in North China's Hebei Province on May 10, 2023. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, presided over a meeting on promoting the development of the Xiong'an New Area during his trip. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects the Xiong'an New Area in North China's Hebei Province on May 10, 2023. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, presided over a meeting on promoting the development of the Xiong'an New Area during his trip. Photo: Xinhua

Six years after China announced the construction of the Xiong'an New Area, the site that "started from scratch" from a blueprint has become a reality, as a high-level modern metropolis has been building up, which is "nothing short of a miracle," Chinese President Xi Jinping said during an inspection to the area on Wednesday, at a time when the "dream city" has just celebrated its sixth anniversary of its establishment.

Development of the 1,770-square-kilometer site in North China's Hebei Province has been panning out successfully, with the focus now shifting from widespread construction to a new operational stage during which high-quality development is placed at the heart. 

The progress is a culmination of all-out efforts to crystallize a grand vision against epidemic disruption and a complex global economic landscape. It not only proves the decision with "lasting importance for the millennium to come" the Party made in 2017 is completely accurate, but it also offers a vivid display of the Chinese way of modernization in all aspects that is green, low-carbon, innovative, open and sharing, observers said. 

The building of the high-level socialist modern metropolis, which lives up to the world's most advanced model of a "city of the future" that no other Western cities have trialed, is also set to channel new impetus to the global economic pattern, analysts said. 

Building the Xiong'an New Area has achieved important phased results, Xi said at a symposium with Chinese officials, state broadcaster the China Central Television reported. 

The top-level construction and development plan has been basically completed, and the construction of basic infrastructure has achieved important progress. Initial results have been achieved in relieving Beijing's non-capital functions. The conditions for the gathering of industrial and innovation elements have gradually improved, and the relocation and resettlement work is progressing in an orderly manner, he said. 

Xi stressed that Xiong'an has entered a phase of advancing large-scale construction and at the same time taking on functions nonessential to Beijing's role as China's capital. He called for efforts to firm up confidence and maintain resolve while taking solid steps to continuously achieve new progress in developing the Xiong'an New Area.

These achievements have been made under the severe situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in the past three years and great changes unseen in a century, which did not come easily, Xi said. It proves that the major decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on the construction of Xiong'an New Area is absolutely correct, and the work in all aspects regarding the city's development is solid and effective, he noted.

 "The basic shape of Xiong'an is in sight. And the next step is to set in motion the engines of the local real economy, such as industries, technicians and talents, to make the city start roaring. And this will signal the city has entered a new operational development phase," Cong Yi, dean of the School of Marxism at Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Cong said that the second stage does not equate to "drawing an end to" its construction. The city is set to drive more innovations and reforms in China, not only technologically, but also in mechanisms and systems. 

Xi inspected several sites in Xiong'an, including Xiong'an railway station, the first major basic infrastructure construction project at the area which is of landmark significance, and the Xiong'an Hall of the Xiong'an Convention and Exhibition Center, during which he learned about progress in Baiyangdian Lake ecological environment management and protection, as well as dredging and electricity network building. 

China announced plans to establish Xiong'an New Area on April 1, 2017. 

A new model of modernization 

Xi stressed at the meeting that local authorities need to firmly grasp the function, position, mission and principal requirement of Xiong'an New Area, elevate political standing, and maintain historical patience. 

According to Xi, short-term goals and medium- and long-term goals need to be properly coordinated, including the relationship between urban construction speed and population concentration scale, industrial transfer and industrial upgrade, as well as the release of Beijing's non-capital functions and the city's own development, to ensure the right direction of the construction and development.

The city needs to advance works in several areas, including fully implementing innovation-driven strategy to make it an innovation highland and a hot destination for entrepreneurs. Also, it needs to follow the philosophy that "clean waters and green mountains are just as valuable as gold and silver," adhering to low-carbon, green development, and build the area into a paradigm for green development. 

Zhang Gui, secretary general of the College of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Collaborative Development under Nankai University, told the Global Times on Wednesday that Xiong'an New Area is a paradigm of China's modernization, which embraces the traits of Chinese high-quality development that involves innovation, co-existence of human beings and nature, a high-level of digitalization and low carbon development.

Xiong'an New Area does not sit near the river or sea, and it does not rely on heavy capital products and chemicals for development; the development of Xiong'an, which is envisioned to be a "city of the future," is based on light assets and innovative R&D, Zhang said.

The construction of the Xiong'an New Area carries historical significance for the development of both China and the world since the very start. 

"From its historical mission, as well as the development trend of the whole world, the opening-up of Xiong'an New Area is its essence and the mission of our country," Zhang said.

China's central authorities have stressed in the city's development guideline the importance of planning, saying "every inch of land should be clearly planned before construction."

"It is an unprecedented and quite bold move that no other Western cities have dared to explore. A complete and scientific plan goes first, followed by a whole-of-nation system to support innovative moves. The city is born to be a base for homegrown technological breakthroughs," Cong said. 

"It not only mirrors where China's economic strength is rooted, but also would play an exemplary role in the world, showcasing that the Chinese way of modernization is not purely economy-driven, but rather is an all-rounded development model," Cong added. 

According to the design, by the middle of this century, the area should become an important part of the world-level Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei city cluster. 

Currently, with the opening of an intercity railway in 2020, travel time between Beijing West Railway Station to Xiong'an has been cut from nearly 1.5 hours to about 50 minutes. A fast train takes only 19 minutes to run from Beijing Daxing International Airport, another key project for the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, to Xiong'an.

Xi pointed out that local authorities should steadily push forward multiple missions involving diverting the non-capital functions of Beijing, and continue the consequential plan to move the second batch of centrally administrated state-owned enterprises' headquarters and their second- and third-tier subsidiaries, or innovation businesses based in Beijing, into the area. 

"Against the background of global changes, the construction of Xiong'an is definitely not a closed-door project, but closely connected with the world," Zhang said, noting that the city is set to draw talents nationwide as well as worldwide.