A view on high: A woman crane operator watches growth of a city
Wang Shasha begins her day in the wee hours of the morning, as she climbs up a 50-meter-tall tower crane and starts operating the big machine to move building materials at a construction site in Xiong’an New Area, north China’s Hebei Province.
For the 30-year-old crane operator, the most fulfilling moment of her challenging daily job is when she looks out from the crane cab and sees hundreds of high-rise buildings stand tall in the construction site forming a beautiful skyline against the backdrop of the rising sun.
Having worked in Xiong’an for well over a year, Wang said she always feels proud that she is helping to turn the blueprint of the new area, dubbed China’s “city of future,” into a tangible reality.
On April 1, 2017, China announced plans to establish Xiong’an New Area, about 100 kilometers southwest of Beijing.
The aim is to build the 1,770-square-kilometer area into a green city featuring innovation and a national model of high-quality development.
The construction of Xiong’an has been forging ahead at full throttle over the past four years.
More than 160,000 people are working on more than 120 major projects such as infrastructure construction and ecological restoration.
In Xiong’an’s Rongdong area, a major residential space where Wang works, over 85 percent of the nearly 1,000 buildings planned had been roofed by the end of March and will be ready for handover by June. The area is designed to accommodate about 170,000 people.
An intercity railway linking Xiong’an and Beijing started operation in December last year, slashing the commuting time between the two cities from one and a half hours to about 50 minutes. Meanwhile, the construction of three express lines linking Xiong’an, Beijing and neighboring Tianjin is scheduled to open to traffic in May.
Infrastructure construction is also proceeding smoothly at Xiong’an’s startup area, which will be part of the Xiong’an city proper. Designed to take over Beijing’s functions nonessential to its role as the national capital, the startup area will serve as a new home for Beijing’s colleges, hospitals, business headquarters, and financial and public institutions.
Tech giants move in
Since its inception, Xiong’an has been designed to become an intelligent city featuring high-tech and innovation as well as a magnet for global talented people.
As of February, more than 3,700 enterprises had registered in Xiong’an, of which more than 2,000 firms are in fields of scientific research, software development, information technology and technological services, according to official data.
Leading Chinese tech firms such as Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu are also on the list, as the tech giants are tapping into the area’s great potential in developing frontier technologies including autonomous driving, cloud computing, blockchain and big data.
Eye Cool, a company specializing in artificial intelligence, moved its headquarters from Beijing to Xiong’an in 2018, in view of the area’s ideal environment for tech startups.
“Xiong’an has been billed as the ‘city of innovation’ since its establishment, and we couldn’t wait to grab the opportunities it brought,” said Wang Shuqi, the company’s marketing director. “We’re honored to have grown alongside Xiong’an’s development.”
Wang said her company’s AI-based facial recognition technology has been used in industrial parks, railway stations, service centers and schools in Xiong’an for security purposes and prevention and control of COVID-19.
“With artificial intelligence to be widely adopted in every aspect of life in Xiong’an, I believe our company will have a brighter future here,” she added.
Wu Hequan, an academic with the Chinese Academy of Engineering and an expert advisor to the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the development of Xiong’an’s high-tech and high-end industries will help optimize the region’s industrial structure.
Such industries are expected to account for 70 to 80 percent of Xiong’an’s economy, Wu noted.
“Green” is another buzzword in Xiong’an’s grand development plan. It aspires to become a green city with harmonious human-environment interaction.