President Xi’s dream city of Xiongan pushes ahead with smart city infrastructure aimed at covering all areas

Sarah Dai

Xiongan New Area, President Xi Jinping’s attempt to build a bustling new metropolis just outside Beijing, is pushing ahead with the construction of comprehensive smart city infrastructure, offering a taste of the future for city dwellers.

The former backwater consisting of three counties in Hebei province is building an intelligent urban management system that can cover everything “from the sky, to the underground to terminals and end devices”, according to a statement from city authorities on their official WeChat public account on Sunday.

Xiongan’s “smart city brain project” is aimed at enhancing infrastructure with technologies including satellite information services, sensor recognition, a 5G network, supercomputing and big data facilities.

“A high level of intelligence will be put in place in city administration, engineering construction, corporate and social credit systems, public transport and other civil services,” said the statement. “The city will operate a fully-covered and interconnected … system.”

The city’s technology push comes eight months after Xi paid his second visit to Xiongan in two years, seen as a sign of frustration with progress on the region’s development which is seen as “crucial for a millennium to come”. During the January tour, Xi described the project as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and encouraged state-owned and private companies to help make it a success, according to Xinhua.

Is Xi getting impatient with lack of progress on ‘future city’?

Over 3,000 enterprises had registered to establish operations in Xiongan as of August. The new area has attracted tech companies including Alibaba Group Holding, Tencent Holdings, Baidu and JD.com. Projects including the Tsinghua University intelligent lab and the Zhongguancun science park are all under construction.

Launched in April in 2017 and with Xi personally behind the project, Xiongan is expected to be transformed from a humble backwater into a modern and innovation-driven smart city, with a population of more than 5 million. Its development coincides with a national drive to gain global leadership in future generation technologies such as artificial intelligence, internet of things and next-generation 5G mobile networks.

Earlier this month, an intercity railway linking Beijing with Xiongan New Area that is set to be operational by 2020, started test runs, Xinhua reported.

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