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Chinese Backwater Becomes Center of Xi’s Futuristic Dream City

Property prices triple in dusty Xiong county as luxury vehicles from Beijing and Tianjin park next to donkey burger stalls.

Meng Jing reports: For residents of the sleepy town of Xiongxian in smoggy Hebei province, Saturday’s announcement by China’s state news agency that it would become the centre of a new special economic zone, handpicked by President Xi Jinping, was a bolt out of the blue.

Xiongxian rocketed overnight from a forgotten backwater spot on China’s economic map to the darling of mainland investors after Xinhua said the Xiongan New Area, covering three rural counties – Xiongxian, Rongcheng and Anxin – would be as important for China in the future as Shenzhen in the 1980s and Shanghai Pudong in the 1990s.

Local Mo Xiaohuan, driving an Audi A8, could barely hide her smile. She bought a three-bedroom flat in the town for 8,000 yuan (US$1,161) per square metre in November. Four months later, she was confident she would be able to sell for 25,000 yuan per square metre.

“You can’t find any [property] sellers,” she said. Potential buyers, on the other hand, were everywhere. … (read more)


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