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Building today for a better tomorrow

By Zhang Yu in Shijiazhuang | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2017-06-02 08:28

State-owned enterprises, startups expected to help transform new area into an economic success story

Bringing in the right mix of talent will be crucial for the expansion of the Xiongan New Area in North China's Hebei province.

Since the area was designated an economic zone, State-owned enterprises, or SOEs, startups and institutions have expressed interest in moving there.

"The planned Xiongan New Area is of national significance and needs to bring in first-rate talent to start innovative business and construct the economic zone," said Yuan Tongli, Party chief of the preparatory committee of Xiongan.

 Building today for a better tomorrow

Students of Peking University celebrate their graduation. The university will work alongside relevant government departments in Baoding, Hebei province, to help develop public-private-partnership projects in opening up Xiongan. Zhu Xingxin / China Daily

The new area has already attracted Beijing-based Peking University, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in China.

Training will be offered in the health sector, while educational resources will also be pumped into the region, according to a meeting attended by bilateral officials recently.

"Talent should be the most important resource Xiongan should have from the very beginning of its development," Xie Xiao'ou and Xie Qiushi wrote in a commentary in the Hebei Daily.

Peking University will work alongside relevant government departments in Baoding, Hebei province, to help develop public-private-partnership projects in opening up Xiongan.

The university's famed Guanghua School of Management will set up a training center to bolster management studies and techniques.

"Peking University will provide talent support in the process of planning and building of Xiongan," said Zhao Kezhi, Party chief of Hebei.

Xiongan New Area aims to attract a wide range of businesses and institutions involved in scientific research, financial operations, corporate headquarters and administrative agencies, a business blueprint for the region shows.

More than 30 central SOEs in the field of transportation and telecommunications are likely to pursue economic opportunities in Xiongan, according to a website for the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the country's top SOE regulator.

"Once hospitals, branches of universities and scientific research institutions are established here and State-owned enterprises move into the area, they will attract a resourceful talent pool, as well as more workers to Xiongan," said Nie Huihua, vice-president of the National Academy of Development and Strategy at Renmin University of China.

Cao Xiaolong is just the sort of entrepreneur Xiongan is looking for.

He is the manager of a innovative start-up company in neighboring Tianjin and would consider relocating to Xiongan.

"But my staff members don't want to go there yet because they worry about their daily lives," said Cao. "They are concerned about public services in a new area at this early stage.

"Even if I abandon my old staff and go there alone, I don't think I would be able to recruit the same level of talent I would need to keep the business going."

His company is involved in research and development in industrial robots, and smart devices used in solar energy such as photo voltaic technology.

He employs 8 staff and all are graduates from prestigious universities in Beijing and Tianjin. Every one of his workers is keen to live in an environment with quality resources.

"My interest in moving to Xiongan has increased since universities such as Peking University and companies like China Shipping Industry Corporation, the country's leading shipbuilder, have made the move to develop Xiongan," Cao said.

With key universities moving in, major companies will follow.

But then, once the infrastructure is in place to bring in the brightest and the best, Xiongan New Area will take off.

"We will transfer some quality educational resources to Xiongan, especially those leading-edge disciplines," said Hao Ping, Party chief at Peking University.

The institution already has a tremendous pool of talent and plans to establish a first-class medical center in the new zone.

This would include a range of disciplines, such as integrated teaching, scientific research and medical services.

It is this sort of massive transfer of expertise that is exciting local businesses.

Zhang Huan, a wine marketer in Baoding, was delighted to hear that Peking University will help resource the Xiongan project.

"I had always planned to pursue an on-the-job graduate course at a leading university after graduation in 2012," says Zhang.

But until now she struggled to find the right course and the right university in Baoding.

"Hopefully, I will get the opportunity to study at Peking University after it establishes branches in Xiongan, which is about 30 km from Baoding," says Zhang.

(China Daily European Weekly 06/02/2017 page8)

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