Pupils at the gate of the Beijing Chaoyang Experimental Primary School Xiongan Campus on Friday (Photo: Li Hao/GT)
How to transfer non-capital functions, improve regional development next focuses: expert
Since the Xiongan New Area was established on April 1, 2017, the municipal government of Beijing has been offering development support to the new economic zone, for example, through launching an educational aid project and creating a number of technological parks. As more and more centrally administrated State-owned enterprises, tech firms and private companies have been choosing to set up branches in Xiongan, local authorities in turn have been strengthening efforts to explore a new local housing system, which is expected to boost the home rental industry. This article is the second part of a two-part story.
It was at 7:30 on Friday morning when the Xiongan New Area in North China's Hebei Province suddenly became a lively place as it welcomed a rush of pupils from the newly named Beijing Chaoyang Experimental Primary School onto its education campus.
A traffic safety team, composed of 10 volunteering parents, was busy escorting students onto the campus.
Just 20 days ago, the school was known as Rongcheng Primary School. Now, a signboard that reads "Beijing Chaoyang Experimental Primary School Xiongan Campus" is hung on the school's gate instead.
On March 1, the launching ceremony for the Beijing-Xiongan educational aid project was held at the former Rongcheng Primary School.
During this event, the Xiongan Campus of Beijing Chaoyang Experimental Primary School, Beijing No.80 High School and Beijing Liuyi Toddler and Zhongguancun No.3 Primary School were formally established, marking the success of the first Beijing-Xiongan educational aid project designed to improve educational opportunities for local students, according to media reports.
"The new signboard was hung when this semester started on March 5," a teacher at the school, who only gave her surname as Yuan, told the Global Times on Friday.
"Teachers and students in Xiongan will have opportunities to visit the Beijing campus and study there, while teachers at the Beijing campus will also come to the Xiongan campus to exchange teaching experiences with us and interact with our students."
"Teachers and parents are happy as the establishment of the Xiongan New Area is already bringing students such great educational opportunities," the teacher said.
The Xiongan New Area, which was established on April 1, 2017, is about 100 kilometers southeast of Beijing. Upon completion, it will span three of Hebei's counties - Xiongxian, Rongcheng and Anxin - that sit at the center of the triangular area formed by Beijing, Tianjin and Shijiazhuang, Hebei's provincial capital.
China aims to build the new area into a low-carbon, intelligent, habitable and globally influential city where people and nature can coexist in harmony.
The Beijing municipal government will continue to give full support to the construction of the Xiongan New Area by helping the new economic zone build schools, technology parks and rail links and by assisting its environmental protection efforts, the Xinhua News Agency reported on March 18, citing Tan Xuxiang, a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress and head of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform.
During the six months after the new area was established, more than 70 centrally administrated State-owned enterprises set up branches in Rongcheng, where the Xiongan New Area Management Committee is temporarily located. Besides those, an increasing number of private firms, securities brokers, commerce chambers and leading domestic technology companies have also been arriving in the new area.
The Global Times on Friday found that Chinese multinational Tencent Holdings has already started decorating its office in Rongcheng. One of the workers there, who only gave his surname as Chen, told the Global Times that Tencent's office building previously belonged to a local clothing company. "We started decorating it around 10 days ago and it will still take us two more weeks [to finish]," Chen said.
In November 2017, Tencent, along with other technology giants such as Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group Holding, signed strategic cooperation agreements with Xiongan.
These companies will introduce advanced technology and innovative resources to the urban planning and building strategies in the area.
Also, on March 19, the Agricultural Bank of China announced the opening of its branch bank in Xiongan.
Improve local housing
As an increasing number of employees from those companies expand into Xiongan, the growth prospect of the local housing market is in turn attracting lots of public attention.
In April 2017, when Xiongan was established, speculation in the local housing market was rife and commercial rent prices quadrupled as a result of companies pouring into the area.
The Global Times found out on Friday that since then, due to stricter housing regulations, local real estate agencies have been shutting down. Meanwhile, the construction of some commercial residential apartments has been halted.
"The new area will largely advance the housing rental market, meeting the aim of curbing property speculation, which would otherwise bring a negative impact to transferring non-capital functions out of Beijing," noted Zhang Gui, executive director of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei research center under the Hebei University of Technology.
Xiongan plans to boost the local rental housing market in the future by setting up a big data supervision platform and introducing famous domestic and foreign home rental management institutions to the new area, the Xinhua News Agency reported in February, citing local authorities.
The new economic zone will not follow the old development path of cities that was dominated by the potential growth of the real estate market, but instead will explore a new housing supply system that consists of public rented housing, institutional rented apartments, jointly-owned homes and commercial residential buildings, the report said.
The development of the new area will involve the resettlement of about 1.1 million local residents, Zhang told the Global Times on Tuesday.
He added that local residents will be properly resettled to deliver a stable transition for the complete construction of Xiongan.
The central government has passed the construction plans for Xiongan through the deliberation stage, Zhang said, noting that those plans will be unveiled soon.
Zhang said that "how to effectively transfer non-capital functions out of Beijing to Xiongan is the next focus of the new area's development strategy," adding that it is also vital for local authorities to effectively support high-tech and innovative industries.
Once the construction of the new area starts in full scale in the near future, how to connect the development of other areas in Hebei with Xiongan in order to improve the comprehensive economic and social growth of the province should be further addressed, Zhang said.