By Liu Ying Source: China Daily Published: 2017-6-2
China announced it would set up the Xiongan New Area in northern Hebei province on April 1, as part of measures to advance the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. The central government said that the concept of green development will also be emphasized during the whole process of design and construction of the area.
President Xi Jinping emphasized that the key issue for the coordinated development of the region is to phase out some noncapital functions from Beijing, reduce the population density and make economic and social development match with the population, resources and environment of the region.
Beijing, the capital of China and also an international metropolis, has been burdened by "urban blight". It has about 30 million residents and faces urban diseases such as smog, heavy traffic congestion and an exploding population.
It is urgent to phase out some noncapital functions from Beijing. The Xiongan New Area will take over some of the those functions, and the move itself shows the concept of green development.
This concept is shown by the site selection of the Xiongan New Area. Xiongan has a well-developed transportation network. It has a good natural environment and rich water resources. The area`s economy has not been highly developed, so it is easier to make new plans and build at relatively low cost. A key advantage is that the area`s future development will be equipped with good top-level design and human resources.
The target of building this area also showed the green development concept - that is, to phase out the noncapital functions for Beijing, to optimize the layout and space structure of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, to have coordinated development in the region, to cultivate more innovation and to create a world-class urban agglomeration.
Green smart city: The Xiongan New Area will be a test ground for green development, and the concept will be carried out in the whole planning and construction process of the area. From the beginning, it will adopt international standards and apply the highest global standards for smart cities.
About three decades ago, China`s Shenzhen Special Economic Zone explored its own development experiences, growing from a small town to a big city. The experiences of reform and opening-up in Shenzhen also helped promote economic development in the whole country. Now Xiongan will also explore experiences that can be copied or promoted on a wider scale. With proper design and cost, Xiongan is planned to be a model of a Chinese green smart city, and a new benchmark city that is ecological, livable and sustainable.
Green transportation: Xiongan will have to build green transportation networks, including railways, highways, airlines and waterways, so that people can travel between Xiongan and other cities, such as Beijing, Tianjin and Baoding, in about half an hour. While building transportation networks, it is important to stick to green standards, use new energy, adopt wide use of electric public transportation vehicles and build enough new energy charging stations.
Green industries: The green development concept also needs to be reflected in industrial development, so Xiongan`s city planning and economic development should stick to green industries and to supporting green financing. To be specific, it needs to develop green ecological agriculture. It should also develop high-tech industries and service industries.
If Xiongan becomes a cluster of green high-tech industries, it will also help with the green development of Hebei province generally, to help it speed up supply-side reforms and encourage environmental input in its steel and coal industries.
Green financing should be adopted to support Xiongan development. For example, measures such as a green credit policy, green bonds and green funds could all be used to support the development of green industries.
Sustainable, livable new area: President Xi has emphasized that the construction of Xiongan New Area should meet the requirements of ecological civilization. Xiongan should insist on putting ecology as the top consideration, and not to build an area crowded with high buildings. Instead, it should have enough public space and a comfortable environment.
Xiongan should be properly designed, and should be a high-tech, ecological, livable and smart city - not only so that the city will have high efficiency industries and economic development, but also to let people and the environment get along harmoniously.
The author is a research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.