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A New Government Planned Mega-City Shapes Up Next to Beijing

Planners for the Xiong’an New Area hope to cure the ills of "megacity disease"
June 10, 2017, 5am PDT | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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Nikolaj Potanin

Ma Tianjie of Foreign Policyreports on the planned development of a new mega-city recently announced by the Chinese government in one of Beijing's neighboring provinces. The hope with Xiong’an New Area is to create the kind of areas that Shenzhen or Shanghai's Pudong area have become, with non-governmental functions, including corporate headquarters, moving from the capital of Beijing to the new town. However, some critics see little hope of repeating the economic boom that transformed the "backwaters" of Pudong and Shenzhen into global financial hubs. The government is also struggling to curb wild real estate speculation in the designated new area.

Xiong’an’s planners are faced with the tricky task of managing not just expectation but also imagination. There is visible frustration over what the government sees as a small-minded, reductionist reading of the New Area as nothing more than a real estate play. Wild speculation is “debasing” to the leadership’s vision for the New Area, an article in state mouthpiece People’s Daily declared. The grand plan, it argues, is an ambitious strategy to explore a new way to overcome “megacity disease,” to achieve more balanced regional development and to nurture innovative engines of growth.

Tianjie reports that the phased development of Xiong’an will begin with a 38 square mile city, eventually growing to 770 square miles, or slightly smaller than Tokyo.

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Published on Friday, May 19, 2017 in Foreign Policy
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