How does Zhangjiakou’s Post-Olympic Economy Create More Growth Points with New Opportunities from the “Belt and Road Initiative”?

TopNews Express   December 9, 2023, 23:22:06

Site Photo of Guoshi Forum: New Opportunities from the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and New Images after the Olympics

Photo by Han Bing, Journalist for China News

Author: Chen Su

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the “Belt and Road Initiative”. Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics has also been successfully held for nearly two years. Looking back, the “Belt and Road Initiative” and the Winter Olympics have significantly propelled the development of the regional economy. In the post-Olympic era, exploring how to leverage the new opportunities from the “Belt and Road Initiative” to facilitate high-quality urban and regional development and fostering new economic growth points post-Olympics is a matter worthy of thorough exploration by all sectors of society.

On December 9, the China News Service and Zhangjiakou People’s Government jointly organized the “Guoshi Forum: New Opportunities from the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and New Images after the Olympics”, which was undertaken by the Hebei Branch of China News Service, TopNews Express of China News Service, and the Publicity Department of the CPC Zhangjiakou City Committee, with strategic support from the Bank of Hebei and ZTE Corporation. The forum was held at the Chongli National Ski Jumping Center, also named “Snow Ruyi”, in Zhangjiakou.

Pioneering Development in an Active Role

Zhangjiakou serves as a pivotal city along the China-Mongolian-Russian Economic Corridor within the “Belt and Road Initiative”. Renowned as the starting point of the ancient Zhangku Avenue, comparable to the Silk Road, the city is celebrated as an “inland port” for foreign trade. Just over a year ago, Beijing and Zhangjiakou jointly presented the world with a concise, secure, and spectacular Olympic event, gathering global attention and placing Zhangjiakou on the world stage.

“Currently, Zhangjiakou’s development has reached a new historical starting point. We are seizing opportunities, riding the tide, and thoroughly planning to excel in the post-Olympic economic development,” said Li Keliang, Deputy Secretary of CPC Zhangjiakou City Committee and Mayor. In recent years, Zhangjiakou’s ice and snow economy has risen strongly, hosting and organizing a total of 312 international and domestic events, introducing and implementing 107 ice and snow industry projects, with 67 in operation, constructing 10 large ski resorts, and surpassing 6.5 million participations in ice and snow sports, making it the largest high-end skiing cluster in China.

In response to the new opportunities of the “Belt and Road Initiative”, Li Keliang expressed that Zhangjiakou is actively integrating into the “Belt and Road Initiative”, engaging in extensive cooperation in areas like ice and snow equipment manufacturing and professional talent cultivation. The “Jingzhang” China-Europe Railway Express has been opened to public, and established an efficient new overland route to Europe.

Dong Fuyin, Deputy Director of the Publicity Department of CPC Hebei Provincial Committee and Director of the Provincial Internet Information Office, stated that Hebei Province is currently earnestly advancing major national strategies such as the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and the construction and development of the Xiong’an New Area, vigorously constructing a strong and beautiful Hebei economy, and striving to compose the Hebei chapter of China’s modernization. The Guoshi Forum aims to discuss new opportunities from the “Belt and Road Initiative” and explore new tracks for post-Olympic economic development, providing significant intellectual support for high-quality development.

Zhang Mingxin, Editor-in-Chief of China News Service, expressed that the “Belt and Road Initiative” and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics have not only promoted the development of the regional economy, but also provided extensive cooperation platforms for various areas of cooperative nations. Historically, Zhangjiakou has been a significant node on the ancient Tea-Horse Road and marks the starting point of the well-known Zhangku Avenue. Currently, Zhangjiakou City is actively participating in the high-quality construction of the “Belt and Road Initiative”, with the “Zhangshiou (Zhangjiakou-Shijiazhuang-Europe)” Railway Express route inaugurated. In the post-Olympic era, how to leverage the new opportunities of the “Belt and Road Initiative” to maximize the benefits of Olympic legacies is a crucial consideration for everyone to plan and layout together.

Focusing on High-Quality Development with New Opportunities

Hebei, a province abundant in cultural and tourism resources with unique geographical advantages and convenient transportation conditions, boasts a consumer market of 110 million people in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. The successful hosting of the Winter Olympics has propelled China’s ice and snow tourism industry into a new era of rapid development, presenting significant opportunities while imposing new requirements for high-quality development in the ice and snow sector.

Discussing how to promote post-Olympic high-quality development in Olympic cities, Su Jian, Director of the Peking University China Center for Economic Research (CCER), stated that efforts should be focused on four aspects: product diversity, price optimization, cost reduction, and the creation of a safe, comfortable, and convenient consumption environment. This involves establishing a diverse, all-encompassing product system infused with creative cultural and artistic content, introducing innovative enterprises, setting optimal pricing systems based on different product characteristics and demand, reducing costs to maximize profits at given prices, and creating a secure and enjoyable consumption environment for tourists.

Zhang Jianping, Vice Chairman of the China Society for Social and Economic Systems Analysis, emphasized the need to turn Chongli and Zhangjiakou into international platforms and consider the sources of international tourists. For instance, tourists from neighboring countries like Japan and the Republic of Korea have a demand for skiing, and targeted investment can be made to attract these specific customers. Additionally, developing a combination of ice and snow with homestays can meet the accommodation needs of young people pursuing affordable lodging. It is essential to improve supporting facilities, enhance cultural experiences, leverage brand effects, explore the construction of a low-carbon, green, and environmentally friendly high-value-added industry, and emphasize the leading role of enterprises.

“After the Winter Olympics, the Chinese public has become increasingly close to ice and snow sports, and the popularity of winter sports continues to rise. This has laid a solid market foundation and industrial support for the development of ice and snow tourism,” said Yang Jinsong, Director of the International Research Institute at the China Tourism Academy. The development of ice and snow tourism can be promoted on both the demand and supply sides. On the demand side, it is crucial to integrate ice and snow tourism products with emotional consumer needs, emphasizing creative storytelling, aesthetic product positioning, and the integration of technology. Continuous iteration is required for market creation, brand shaping, information distribution, channel access, and relationship maintenance. On the supply side, innovative product development should be undertaken, and market entities with cultural connotations, entrepreneurial resources, brand influence, and applicable technologies should be aggregated and driven to effectively enhance the development level of ice and snow tourism products.

High-quality development requires financial support. Wang Xianli, Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee and President of the Bank of Hebei, stated that in recent years, Bank of Hebei has focused on supporting local industries such as green new energy, big data, ice and snow tourism, and wine production in the development of the Zhangjiakou post-Olympic economy and the construction of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou tourism corridor. The bank has allocated nearly RMB 40 billion in credit funds to the Zhangjiakou region. In the future, Bank of Hebei will continue to seize opportunities such as the “Belt and Road Initiative” and the post-Olympic era, to promote the development of green finance, inclusive finance, and digital finance.

Creating a Data Hub to Ignite New Economic Vitality

In 2022, Zhangjiakou was successfully designated as one of the eight major hubs in the national integrated computing network, marking the beginning of a new chapter in building a highland for the development of the big data industry. As of now, Zhangjiakou has put into operation 1.45 million servers. Experts at the conference believe that in the post-Olympic era, Zhangjiakou should seize the opportunity for digital development to stimulate new economic dynamics.

Qin Hongjun, Party Secretary, Chairman and General Manager of China Mobile Communications Group Hebei Co., Ltd., stated that with the rapid breakthrough of new-generation information technology, data has become a new factor of production, and computing power has become a new foundational energy source. Hebei has significant platforms such as the China International Digital Economy Expo, and Zhangjiakou has a national-level data center cluster, laying a solid foundation for the future development of the digital industry in the region. “China Mobile Hebei has comprehensively covered the Winter Olympic competition area and related regions with a 5G network, and has achieved intelligent applications such as 5G+VR 3D snowfields, 5G+AI high-definition video security monitoring, and 5G+ big data crowd analysis. Collaborating with scenic areas, a joint effort has been made to establish 5G+ smart tourism, enabling the public to experience entirely new travel encounters. This includes AI/VR-guided tours, 3D navigation, QR code/face-scanning for entry, smart hotels, intelligent security, drone patrols, and live streaming of scenic areas.”

Site Photo of Guoshi Forum: New Opportunities from the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and New Images after the Olympics

Photo by Han Bing, from China News

“Facing the strategic opportunities presented by the resonance of the digital economy and the post-Olympic economy,” Qin Hongjun stated that China Mobile will support Hebei’s intelligent network construction, expand integrated application scenarios, promote the transformation of data value, strengthen industrial cooperation, and digitally empower the high-quality development of the post-Olympic economy.

Nie Shengjun, General Manager of East-Data-West-Computing Business Department of ZTE Corporation, emphasized that extending the long-tail effects of the Olympics, the computing power economy will become a future-driven and new economic growth point for Hebei’s economic development. To promote the development of the Zhangjiakou computing power center, it is necessary to meet the needs of different businesses in various scenarios, improve data transmission speed, and construct networks to high standards. Only then can the rapid scheduling and trading of computing power become a reality. ZTE Corporation has also applied algorithmic achievements in many specific industry sectors to enhance industry efficiency and achieve energy conservation and emission reduction. Hebei, especially Zhangjiakou’s cultural and tourism industry, has broad digital development space and should fully seize this opportunity.

“In the next step, Hebei will construct the Beijing-Zhangjiakou sports, culture, and tourism belt with high quality, creating an international highland for ice and snow tourism.” Zhang Cai, Deputy Director of the Publicity Department of CPC Hebei Provincial Committee, Secretary of the Party Group and Director of the Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, stated that Hebei will continuously enrich new formats and products in culture and tourism, and jointly launch characteristic boutique routes with Beijing, including Winter Olympics ice and snow, the Great Wall ancient road, green ecology, and Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway. They will strengthen the comprehensive utilization of Winter Olympic heritage, create new growth points for the post-Olympic economy, and promote the transformation and utilization of Winter Olympic venues into tourist attractions. Meanwhile, Hebei will vigorously carry out Winter Olympic-themed tours, mass ice and snow tours, outdoor experiential tours, and cultural tours, promote the transformation of Winter Olympic competition venue tourism from a ‘one-season hit’ to ‘four-season hot’, maximize the benefits of Winter Olympic heritage, and contribute to the high-quality development of cities and regions.

Cao Dongxiao, Deputy Secretary of CPC Chongli District Committee and Acting District Chief, stated, “After 7 years of hard work, Chongli has not only successfully completed the preparations and hosting tasks of the Winter Olympics, but has also undergone earth-shaking changes. The infrastructure has undergone a fundamental transformation, and it has successfully been included in the ‘Beijing 1-hour traffic circle'”. The economic strength has significantly improved. Since the Winter Olympics, the total investment in sports tourism projects in the entire region has exceeded RMB 40 billion, equivalent to 16 times the total investment in the past 20 years. In the post-Olympic period, we will spare no effort to transform the ‘cold resources’ into a diverse ‘hot economy’, fully utilize the huge influence and passenger flow brought by the Winter Olympics, develop tourism throughout the year, throughout the region, and at all times, and strive to build Chongli into a sports city with deep culture, vitality, and charm.”