Zhangjiakou eyes internalization in coordinated development

By Chen Boyuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, August 22, 2016
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Zhangjiakou, a city in north China's Hebei Province, seeks to be more internationalized in the country's Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei coordinated development plan and in its preparations as a co-host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The central government laid out the plan for the coordinated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, also known as the capital cluster, two years ago, and thereafter, Zhangjiakou started to explore corresponding development opportunities. Apart from the Winter Olympics, Zhangjiakou also has a geographical advantage in that it borders Beijing and Tianjin in the east, Inner Mongolia in the north and Shanxi in the west.

"This is a strategic location for Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Integration and for the Belt and Road Initiative. Zhangjiakou should focus on complementing with adjacent cities regarding respective advantages," said Han Fangming, chairman of the Charhar Institute, at the 2016 Charhar Roundtable held in Yuxian County of Zhangjiakou on Aug. 20, 2016.

Zhangjiakou has good environment and climate conditions, lower costs for life and business and is not far from Beijing, especially when the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high speed rail will be completed before the 2022 Games. As a result, Zhangjiakou may be an ideal place to accommodate startup entrepreneurs on an exodus from Beijing due to unbearably high costs and worsening air pollution.

"Zhangjiakou could be another Silicon Valley in the U.S. or like Zhongguancun of Beijing, as long as a cluster effect forms gradually," said Prof. Zhao Kejin of Tsinghua University, also a senior research fellow at the Charhar Institute. He believed that the potential inflow of talents, including young entrepreneurs could be the "sacred need" in boosting the city's fame.

Therefore, in the coordinated development of the capital cluster, Zhangjiakou and Hebei Province in a larger sense will no longer only support Beijing and Tianjin with natural resources and talents at the cost of sacrificing their own development opportunities. Instead, Zhangjiakou now has the capability to draw talents out of Beijing.

As for its industrial and infrastructure development, Zhangjiakou has properly positioned itself to highlight green industries, ecological conservation, renewable energies and recreation, hoping that these pursuits will bring the city back to vitality, said Wang Zhijun, the vice director of local legislature and the chief of the city's workers union.

Zhangjiakou is getting increasingly famous on the international level for hosting all the snow events during the 2022 Games and for that purpose new facilities are being built.

While the construction has already brought development opportunities and GDP growth, experts attending the roundtable already think beyond the Olympics; they cautioned that plans should be far ahead of time to prevent those facilities from being desolate immediately after the Olympics conclude as has happened in many previous Olympics.

"The years that lead up to 2022 are also a time when international resources will merge into the coordinated interprovincial development to put Zhangjiakou on the track of fast development," said Wang.

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