Xiong’an – China’s new development model

July 2, 2018 / By  

A year after China’s central government authorities announced ambitious plans to develop Xiong’an New City – some 105 km south of Beijing – progress has been slow but promising, suggesting that the previously little-known area will gradually rise as a leader in the ultimate decentralisation of Beijing to fully integrate the Jing-Jin-Ji region.

Unlike earlier planned Chinese cities, Xiong’an features a low-density environment for which 70% of its eventual 2,000 sq km-area is designated for green space. It will also focus on advanced technologies. For example, China Mobile is already investing in the future of Xiong’an, testing driverless cars that will be applied to a smart transport system for the area.

Officials behind the ‘Thousand-Year Plan’ for Xiong’an have set their sights high. Just as other remarkably built structures in the country such as the Great Wall and Grand Canal have stood the test of time, influencing socio-economic development and more – Xiong’an plans to do the same as it showcases a future model for development in China.

The starting point

Xiong’an is the starting point to solving complex challenges in effectively decentralising Beijing to benefit the Jing-Jin-Ji region as a whole. When initial plans to develop Xiongxian, Rongcheng, and Anxin counties were revealed for Xiong’an, the new city was introduced as one that would serve relocation demand for non-core capital functions from Beijing, particularly SOE operations. But this also led many to assume that Xiong’an would additionally receive a significant proportion of unwanted non-core capital functions from Beijing like manufacturing.

Yet as Beijing pushes out factories and low-end markets in a bid to control its official population to 23 million people by 2020, we do not see Xiong’an welcoming these tenants. Rather Xiong’an wishes to develop a vibrant tertiary sector, with a focus on tech, finance, research and development, and green industries.

Also, because Xiong’an has no dreams of becoming a mega-city – with current plans set to cap its population at 3-5 million people in the long run – it must carefully consider which industries are the priority.

Destiny awaitsSimply relocating select functions or less desirable industries from Beijing to Xiong’an is hardly a thousand-year plan. For Xiong’an to truly be a trailblazer, it must serve a larger, regional purpose. Once Xiong’an has been built up, quality facilities and supporting infrastructure will have wider regional reach. The completion of Beijing Daxing International Airport by 2019 and increased rail connectivity between Beijing and Xiong’an, for example, will facilitate greater movement regionally, enabling growth of satellite cities. This will enable firms to rely on multiple reliable options for relocation in and around Xiong’an.

Thus, as the catalyst for regional development, Xiong’an will not only draw non-core capital functions and industries from Beijing, but perhaps more importantly, foster – by extension – the development of new markets along the Beijing-Xiong’an corridor and in surrounding areas. This crucial missing link within the Jing-Jin-Ji delta will thereby allow the region to achieve the same socio-economic fortunes as the Yangtze River Delta area. This will be the legacy of Xiong’an for a thousand years to come.

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