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Xiongan may emerge as nation's science city
Published on: 2017-04-28
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020Xiongan could emerge as the Chinese version of Tsukuba, the Japanese science city near Tokyo that was conceived in 1963 during the post-war reconstruction, experts say.

They said the planned Xiongan New Area could borrow ideas from Tsukuba. The latter has set an example on how to transform overcrowded, unmanageable metropolitan areas into parts of a larger and orderly economic region.

The April 1 announcement of the plan to create the Xiongan New Area laid emphasis on relocating Beijing's "non-capital" functions to Xiongan, about 100 kilometers south of the capital city.

The new area will be built into a green, livable and modern zone, which is expected to serve as a trailblazer in addressing the problems of big cities, a new engine for innovation and growth, and a bridge for infrastructure connecting Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province.

A similar scheme in Japan last century resulted in Tsukuba, which could be a role model for China's Xiongan New Area, said Zhou Muzhi, professor of economics at Tokyo Keizai University.

The Japanese government came up with the idea of relieving the densely populated capital through systematic relocation of 31 prominent national research and educational facilities to less-congested regions of Japan.

Tsukuba, a rural area 50 km northeast of Tokyo, was selected in 1963 as the site for Japan's first science city to host those institutes.

Japanese Prime Minister's Office set up the Academic New Town Construction Promotion Headquarters in 1964. The Tsukuba Academic New Town Construction Act came into force in 1970, setting the goal of "establishing a science city appropriate for conducting experimental research and education while at the same time developing a well-balanced rural city, and contributing to the ease of the excessive population concentration in the existing Tokyo metropolitan area".

Today, Tsukuba is Japan's cutting-edge science city. Its research covers a wide range of areas, such as electronics, biotechnology, mechatronics, new materials, information engineering, space development, environmental science, natural resources, energy, earth sciences, civil engineering, construction and agriculture.

The Xiongan New Area, if developed well, would become a bright spot in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. But Beijing will continue to be the engine driving the growth of the region.

Beijing should sharpen its capability to manage its dense population, as people will continue to move in.

A major transportation network and basic infrastructure should be in place in Xiongan by 2020. The area will be well connected to Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei by 2022 when the Winter Olympic Games are held.

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