Xiong’an: A waste of resources or urban planning’s future?


With China’s mixed record and lengthy history of urban planning experiments, domestic and international observers alike have expectedly waited for developments from the city of Xiong’an, 100km southwest of Beijing. The city-by-fiat, announced last year to real estate spectators’ delight , is the latest darling of China’s push for  high-quality urbanization  in anticipation for rapid economic development.

  • Xiong’an is the work of the central government, unlike many failed locally-headed urban experiments,  Chinadialogue reports . This quality puts it alongside China’s two greatest urban planning miracles — Shenzhen and Shanghai’s Pudong District. It also provides an extra incentive for success as it could serve as a civilian gauge on the central leadership’s efficacy.
  • With the aim of establishing Xiong’an as a new model for urban planning, the government wants to create a hub for high-tech industry, innovation, and sustainable financing,” Chinadialogue adds. The city plans to become a testing site for sustainable housing, water purification, and energy systems. If successful, the model could spread throughout China and even gain prominence internationally through the Belt and Road  initiative.
  • In addition to the government’s trillion-yuan investment in the city, China Southern recently pledged 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion),  Bloomberg reports  (paywall). Other notable private-sector partners are Baidu and Alibaba, which will work in the city’s transportation sector.
  • The challenges of any city persist in Xiong’an, despite its plentiful resources. One example is the limited success of a $15,000 clean up effort for a pond in Donghegang,  Caixin reports  (paywall). According to an engineer working on the effort, “Household wastewater continues flowing into the pond through the outfall below,” making permanent pollution mitigation challenging.