China is Building a City Three Times the Size of New York

Shepherd China
A farmer walks with his sheep in a village on the outskirts of Rongcheng county, one part of the new special economic zone Xiongan New Area, Hebei province, China, April 3. REUTERS/Jason Lee

China has announced it is building a city three times the size of New York, local media has reported.

The country's ruling Communist Party revealed its plans for Xiongan New Area, which is located 62 miles south of Beijing and spans three counties, on Sunday.

Potential investors have flocked to the site of the city with many unbuilt properties already sold. Property prices in the region have reportedly doubled following the announcement; Bloomberg said that people were camped outside property agents' offices.

A statement released by the central committee and state council described the special economic zone as a "strategy crucial for millennium to come," China Daily reported. A promotional video said the city will be three times larger than New York. New York's population is around 19.7 million; 24 million people live in China's largest city, Shanghai.

Authorities hope the city will ease the pressure on Beijing, which has a population of 22 million and suffers from some of the world's worst pollution and urban sprawl. The plan is for Xiongan New Area to host some of Beijing's essential services, freeing up the capital city.

President Xi spoke about the project during a tour of Hebei. According to China Daily, he said: "Priority should be given to developing an area to pool noncapital functions that will be shifted from Beijing. He has ordered that a modern urban district be built at a suitable location in Hebei, guided by new development concepts."

Xinhua, the state sponsored news agency, reported: "Xiongan will help address the chronic pollution that restrains the region's development potential and jeopardizes public health. Protecting local ecology will be a priority, as the authority does not want to repeat the outdated practise of 'pollution first, treatment later.' People will live in a cleaner and safer environment."

"The collaborative development of the three regions is intended to solve problems like overpopulation and traffic congestion in Beijing," Howard Lau, an analyst at Jefferies Group in Hong Kong said, according to Bloomberg. "The relocation and transformation of industries could boost infrastructure and property investment in the region."