As a State-level development zone focusing on innovative urban development, Xixian New Area in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, is striving to be a new paradigm in areas including industrial agglomeration, state-of-the-art technology, opening-up and sustainability, local officials said.
Located between Xi'an and Xianyang, the area was established in May 2011 and approved by the State Council as the first State-level development zone focusing on innovative urban development in January 2014. Over the years, the district has aimed to build itself into a vital hub for China's opening-up and a new engine for the overall development in China's western region.
"Xixian New Area intends to build a modern industrial system and boost green development as well as urban and rural integration. It aims to create a good environment for both living and doing businesses," said Yue Huafeng, Party secretary of the area.
Liang Gui, vice-governor of Shaanxi province, said maintaining high-quality development is key to the economic development of the region.
"Xixian New Area adheres to the national mission of creating a new urbanization model with Chinese characteristics by promoting high-quality development in environment, culture, technology and governance," he said.
In recent years, Xixian New Area has focused on developing pillar industries including advanced manufacturing, electronic information, airport economy, scientific research and cultural tourism and built a series of innovative platforms such as the free trade zone, the airport economy demonstration zone and the Sino-Russian Silk Road Hi-tech Innovation Park.
Over the past two years, the GDP of the new area has maintained a double-digit growth rate, ranking first in the province. The local fiscal revenue has maintained a growth of more than 40 percent.
In the first half of this year, the added value of the service industry in the area increased by 14.7 percent, the investment in high-tech manufacturing increased by 51.9 percent and the comprehensive energy consumption of the industries decreased by 21.9 percent. The Airport New City, a key part of Xixian New Area, is located on the northwestern side of the area, with a planned area of 141 square kilometers. It is home to the country's seventh-largest airport, the Xi'an Xianyang International Airport, 13 airlines' regional headquarters and 144 logistics companies.
As a national demonstration zone for airport economy, the Airport New City is an important transport hub and industrial park in China's western region, focusing on logistics, aircraft maintenance, international commerce and modern service.
"Industry is the source of power for urban development," said Kang Jun, head of the management committee of Xixian New Area.
The area has introduced more than 20 industrial projects with the value of each eclipsing 10 billion yuan ($1.41 billion) as well as 60 industrial projects with each exceeding 1 billion yuan. It has attracted more than 30 Fortune Global 500 enterprises and over 100 leading enterprises in China.
Xixian New Area is making efforts to build six billion-yuan industrial clusters. The added value of strategic emerging industries and service industries accounted for 30 percent and 55 percent of the area's GDP respectively in recent years.
Since China unveiled its first batch of demonstration bases for entrepreneurship and innovation in 2016, Xixian New Area has exerted great efforts to support technological innovation.
One example is the Western China Science and Technology Innovation Harbor Wisdom Uni-Town, a national-level project jointly established by the Xi'an Jiaotong University, the Ministry of Education, the Shaanxi provincial government and Xixian New Area to integrate scientific research, education, research results transformation and incubation.
It will build a number of research institutions focusing on engineering, science, medicine and strives to set a model for the comprehensive reform of higher education and urbanization in the country.
Another example is the Western Cloud Valley - Hard&Core Technology Town, which is home to more than 770 incubators and 8,000 entrepreneurs. The town focuses on technologies such as the internet of things, cloud computing, big data, mobile communication and sensory positioning to create a one-stop online public service platform.
Shi Yulong, director of the China Center for Unban Development at the National Development and Reform Commission, said the innovative urban development mode of Xixian New Area has set a good example for other places in China, especially in western regions.
"Introducing a batch of research institutions and professionals is key to the sustainable development of the area. We should continue to transform scientific achievements into application, drive industrial development with technological innovation," he said.
Xixian New Area is strengthening ties with the outside world by launching a series of projects such as the Sino-Russian Silk Road Hi-tech Innovation Park, the trade center for South American commodities and the industrial park for international airport express.
The area is also aiming to build itself into an international aviation hub. A total of 355 routes have been opened at the Airport New City, including 23 all-cargo routes.
In 2018, the growth rates of the area's international passenger volume and air cargo ranked first among China's top 10 airports. As one of China's first demonstration areas for ecological civilization, Xixian New Area is trying to preserve the natural environment and construct an ecological corridor in Xi'an, relying on its geographical advantages.
The area has Kunming Lake as its core and is surrounded by the Weihe River, Jinghe River and Fenghe River. It is home to 18 lakes and wetlands and 36 landscape water systems.
It sets a good example for creating a "sponge city", which is designed to absorb excess rainwater and drain heavy precipitation.
Among the first batch of pilot projects in Northwest China, the sponge city project in the area involves a river network, a central green corridor, a belt around the city and a community park.