One month after the advent of Xiongan New Area, a new economic zone about 100 kilometers southwest of Beijing, people have seen signs of a promising future for the area.
On April 1, China announced the plan to create the Xiongan New Area, which spans the counties of Xiongxian, Rongcheng and Anxin in Hebei Province, and home to Baiyangdian, a major wetland in northern China.
"The new zone is a golden-lettered signboard," said Guo Yonghong, general manager of a local clothing company, who told Xinhua he had received hundreds of phone calls seeking for cooperation during the last month both from home and abroad.
"The sudden intensive attention made me realize that I must prepare in advance for the upgrading and transformation of my enterprise."
A BLANK SHEET FOR A GORGEOUS DRAWING
Launching of the new area is expected to help phase out some non-capital functions from Beijing, explore a new model of optimized development in densely-populated areas, and restructure the urban layout in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.
The new area will cover around 100 square km initially and be expanded to 200 square km in the mid-term and about 2,000 square km in the long term.
As the national plan kicks in, massive demolition and relocation is inevitable, and local residents and entrepreneurs are concerned about where their old industries will go.
"Relocation of enterprises will be thoughtful and people-centered," said a circular from the preparatory committee of the Xiongan New Area issued on April 12, setting people's mind at rest.
The top priority for Xiongan's smooth start lies in sound environmental protection and early scientific planning and regulation.
Since April 1, people have crowded squares and streets in Xiongxian, Anxin and Rongcheng counties, taking photos, exchanging information and looking for business opportunities.
Against the backdrop of investor speculation and increasing housing prices, the preparatory committee has frozen transactions related to land and property, vowing to crack down on illegal construction and trading of second-hand houses.
The livelihood of local people after relocation is among the central authorities' top concerns.
During the past month, government officials were asked to listen to local residents' appeals and explain policies of the central government.
Ecosystem protection started much earlier.
Guo Hezi, resident of the Wangjiazhai Village, which is surrounded by the Baiyangdian wetland, told Xinhua that pollution treatment had been enhanced in recent years and the quality of water in the lake was gradually improving.
"In October 2015, a giant project diverting water from the Yellow river to the Baiyangdian was launched to improve the ecosystem in the new area," said Zhao Jianmin, a technician with Anxin County's water resources bureau."Upon its completion, 255 million cubic meters of fresh water will be poured into the Baiyangdian each year."
CITY OF THE FUTURE UNDER PLANNING
During his February visit, President Xi Jinping called for "world vision, international standards, Chinese characteristics and high goals" in planning and construction.
The planning of Xiongan is under way and will include one general plan and several specific plans such as Baiyangdian ecological environment protection, social and economic development and industry layout plans.
The planning began about one year ago, and now the China Academy of Urban Planning & Design and five other institutions are working on improving Xiongan's general plan and the regulatory plan of its starting area.
The detailed regulatory plan and urban design of the 30-square-kilometer starting area of Xiongan will be open for global bidding, according to local authorities.
If all goes according to plan, the area will have an excellent environment, optimal urban layout, great public services and innovative development.
China will take pioneering steps to turn the plan into reality. There will be a lean, efficient and uniform management body to ensure reforms in land use, environmental protection and public service and diverse ways of financing instead of just selling land.
The government will also introduce high-quality education and technological innovation resources into the new area and try to attract major projects such as national laboratories.
The Xiongan New Area's priority will be to serve as a new home for Beijing's "non-capital" functions, which will receive some of Beijing's administrative organs, large enterprises, financial institutions, colleges and research institutions.
Many players are echoing the call. The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council announced it would encourage state firms to support development of the area.
Telecom giants China Mobile and China Telecom declared that they would make sure Xiongan was covered by a 5G network ahead of many other places in the country. China Development Bank, a state-owned policy bank, said it would soon provide loans of 130 billion yuan ($18.9 billion dollars) to support Xiongan's development.
"With the support of the whole country, the Xiongan New Area will become an innovative development model featuring the government's new growth philosophy and we will see a more coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region," said Zhao Kezhi, secretary of the Hebei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China.