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Xi's inspection tour in Xiong'an
Key time points of Xiong'an's development and an abridged translation of the official readout with GRR's notes
On Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping made his third visit to Xiong'an, an up-and-coming city still under construction, often referred to as the "city of the future".
Few cities, other than perhaps Shanghai and Shenzhen, would receive such frequent visits from the president.
This visit is significant as it is likely to dispel doubts that Xiong'an would not live up to its original plan due to the challenges of building an entirely new city on low-lying wetlands and the reluctance of Beijingers to leave their comfortable homes in the capital.
During the inspection, Xi emphasized that the decision to build Xiong'an was "entirely correct".
You can also see the importance of the visit by the number of high-level officials accompanying Xi.
He was accompanied not just by one, but by three members of the Politburo Standing Committee members, including Premier Li Qiang, his chief-of-staff Cai Qi, who was formerly Beijing's Party boss, and Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang, who oversees the portfolio of regional development and sci-tech innovation. It is a rarity.
People should also take note of Xi's order for the planning of further transfer of headquarters of central-level state-owned enterprises (SOEs), their subsidiaries, financial institutions, and research institutes out of Beijing to Xiong'an. This may happen very soon.
Today's piece offers you a list of key time points of Xiong'an's development and an abridged translation of the official readout of Xi's inspection with some GRR's notes to help you better understand the role Xiong'an plays in China's development.
Please kindly note the translation and the documents have no authorization to represent anybody else, as this is only a personal newsletter.
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Located about 100 km southwest of Beijing, the Xiong'an New Area spans three counties in Hebei Province -- Rongcheng, Anxin and Xiongxian.
This is the image that shows the geological location and shape of the new area（from Hitachi Review website）
KEY TIME POINTS
“Xiong’an has been conceived and designed as a tangible living representation of Xi’s new era, a bold vision for a China, confident that it has found its own path to modernity based on its own system and values.” -- Andrew Stokols, PhD researcher at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning
On February 23, 2017, Xi visited Anxin County of Hebei Province to learn about local population density, geological and hydrological conditions.
On April 1, 2017, China announced plans to establish the Xiong'an New Area in Hebei Province. In the readout of the announcement, China stressed the plan as 千年大计、国家大事 "a millennial strategy with lasting importance and a matter of concern to the whole nation," which was then used in many official documents when referring to the new area.
On Feb. 22, 2018, the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee held a meeting chaired by Xi to learn the progress of the planning and preparation work for the Xiong'an New Area. At this meeting, Xi compared the development of Xiong'an to that of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and called for the creation of a "Xiong'an quality" that will serve as a model for promoting 高质量发展 high-quality development.
One month after the meeting, on April 20, 2018, CPC Central Committee and State Council permitted the development plan of the new area, and Xinhua posted the plan text on April 21.
From January 16 to 18, 2019, Xi visited Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and hosted a seminar concerning coordinated development in this region. He called for adopting a long-term perspective, maintaining historical patience and strategic resolve. Xi also emphasized that the guiding principles of planning and construction for the new area must be innovative and forward-thinking, with a vision for the future and adherence to the requirements of high-quality development.
In 2019, the CPC Central Committee and State Council released a guiding opinion to support deeper reform and opening-up in the new area. The opening of the document stated that it is a new area of national significance, following in the reform and opening-up of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and the Shanghai Pudong New Area.
Building the Xiong'an New Area with a high standard was included in the report to the 20th National Party Congress held in October last year.
We will promote coordinated development in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the development of the Yangtze Economic Belt, the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta, and ecological conservation and high-quality development in the Yellow River basin. We will build the Xiongan New Area to a high standard and drive forward the development of the Chengdu-Chongqing economic zone.
ABRIDGED TRANSLATION OF THE OFFICIAL READOUT
Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks as he inspected Xiong'an in north China's Hebei Province and presided over a meeting on promoting its development. During the inspection, Xi said 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. At present, our focus has shifted towards promoting high-quality construction, improving management at a high level, and simultaneously developing Beijing and relieving the city of nonessential functions. President Xi Jinping on Wednesday 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.
当天上午，习近平乘高铁前往雄安新区，抵达后首先考察了雄安站的建设运行情况。雄安站是雄安新区开工建设的第一个重大基础设施项目，具有标志性意义 …… 习近平指出，雄安站是雄安新区的交汇车站，…… 要把昝岗片区建设成为高端高新产业集聚区，…… 。
On Wednesday morning, Xi took a high-speed train to Xiong'an where he first inspected the Xiong'an Railway Station, a key infrastructure project of the area with great symbolic importance. The railway station is designed as a transportation hub, Xi said, emphasizing the need to improve the connectivity of the station with various places. He stressed developing the zone of Zangang, where the railway station is located, into a high-end and high-tech industry cluster area.
习近平随后乘车来到容东片区南文营社区。该社区安置了安新、容城两县回迁群众5000多人。…… 建设好雄安新区，重要的是衔接好安居和乐业，…… ，积极推进基本公共服务均等化，构筑新时代宜业宜居的“人民之城”。
In addition to the railway station, Xi also visited a residential community that is home to 5,000-plus relocated residents. There, Xi chatted with community workers and residents, expressing his satisfaction with the good living conditions of the residents. He also highlighted the importance of ensuring the relocated residents live well and have satisfactory jobs. Promoting equal access to basic public services is crucial in building a people's city that is both livable and conducive to doing business, Xi noted.
He visited the home of resident Li Jinghe. Xi said building the Xiong'an New Area is a major strategic decision made by the Party's central authorities and the relocated residents had made their contributions.
Xi spoke with deep emotion and said: "I have a strong attachment to Hebei, where I had previously worked. My wish is to see the area develop into a better place. Building the Xiong'an New Area is a historic and national undertaking, which requires persistent efforts and a practical approach instead of impatience or relying on miracles."
According to the official resume of Xi, he worked as the vice Party chief and then Party chief of Zhengding County in Hebei Province for around 4 years from 1982 to 1985.
半月谈 Semimonthly, one of the most widely distributed magazines in China, wrote:
"It is rare to anoint the development of a new city as a "millennium project" in history. Xiong'an New Area carries the weight of a millennium project and status as a national priority. It is a project which adheres to the principles of "world vision, international standards, Chinese characteristics, and high positioning. The project development insists on high-level planning, construction standards, and high-quality development."
At the construction sites of an inter-city railway station and an international trade center, he learned about the development of key infrastructure projects and major projects launched for the purpose of relieving Beijing of functions nonessential to its role as the capital. Xi said more efforts should be made to develop a multifaceted and integrated transportation network and make full use of underground space so as to build a "city of the future" free of urban maladies.
Al Jazeera released a Youtube video on May 5. It says "Originally pitched to ease some of the pressure on Beijing, Xiongan gives authorities a chance to experiment with creating an ideal futuristic city."
At a convention center, Xi was briefed about the progress of the overall design and development of the Xiong'an New Area and efforts to restore and conserve the eco-environment of Baiyangdian Lake.
At the convention center, Xi convened a meeting on advancing the high-quality construction of the Xiong'an New Area to a high standard.
听取大家发言后，习近平发表了重要讲话。他强调，…… 短短6年里，雄安新区从无到有、从蓝图到实景，一座高水平现代化城市正在拔地而起，堪称奇迹。…… 。实践证明，党中央关于建设雄安新区的重大决策是完全正确的，……。
Xi remarked that the transformation of the Xiong'an New Area from ground zero to an emerging sophisticated modern city within a mere six years is miraculous. It has been demonstrated that the major decision of the CPC Central Committee to construct the Xiong'an New Area is entirely correct, Xi said.
He stressed efforts to fully, faithfully and comprehensively carry out the CPC Central Committee's strategic plans for building the Xiong'an New Area and to make sure the area is built and developed in the right direction. Xi called for the solid implementation of tasks related to relieving Beijing of functions nonessential to its role as the national capital. He urged the planning of another round of transfers of the headquarters of state-owned enterprises directly under the central government in Beijing as well as their subsidiary companies. The planning of the transfer of financial institutions, research institutes and public institutions should also begin, Xi said. The integration of market mechanisms and the government's guidance should be strengthened to add to the internal impetus for the transfer, Xi said.
On February 16th, 2014, during his inspection tour in Beijing, Xi requested the officials to hold fast the strategic positioning of Beijing, and called for the city to strengthen its core functions as the "political center, cultural center, international communication center, and scientific innovation center" of the country. Nonessential functions refer to those that do not align with these "four centers."
He noted that pioneering policies and measures in reform and opening up, as well as forward-looking trial and demonstration innovation projects shall be carried out in the Xiong'an New Area, so that it can become a fertile ground for innovation and business ventures. Xi underlined efforts to build a world-class business environment that is market-oriented, law-based and internationalized and widely apply advanced science and technology, in a bid to make smart, green and innovative development the trademark of the Xiong'an New Area.
The Sinica Podcast released a very interesting episode on Xiong'an on May 4. In the episode, the guest Andrew Stokols, a PhD researcher at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, said that "Xiong’an is one of the test cities of the digital yuan. I believe Shenzhen and a few other large cities are as well. But in Xiong’an, what I’ve seen is that there’s been talk or discussion of different use cases. For example, workers in Xiong’an have had their salaries transmitted quickly and immediately using digital yuan blockchain currency, central bank digital currency. Then also you could use the digital yuan to pay for city services, to pay taxes. There’s an automated tax payment center that was built in the Xiong’an Citizen Service Center quite early on. That was actually the first complex to be constructed in Xiong’an."
Xi stressed the need to give the people a more concrete sense of fulfillment and happiness through the development of the new area. He also called for enhancing policies that guide employment and entrepreneurship, as well as bolstering employment training programs. He encouraged the area to blaze a new path in narrowing the gap between urban and rural areas, advancing integrated urban-rural development, and promoting common prosperity for all.
Other senior leaders also spoke at the meeting. Li Qiang urged the Xiong'an New Area to accelerate efforts to help relieve Beijing of functions nonessential to its role as China's capital, steadily advance infrastructure construction and modernize the industrial system.
Ding Xuexiang said scientific and technological innovation should be the foundation of the high-quality development of the Xiong'an New Area, calling for carrying out high-standard scientific and technological innovation.