THE Beijing subsidiary administrative centre in Tongzhou district is taking shape, nearly a year after the city municipal government moved in.
Located in the southeastern region, about 30km from the city centre, it plays a major role in easing traffic congestion and population density in the city centre.
Currently, Beijing has an estimated population of 25 million and the government wants to cap the number to about 22 million by 2020.
“We aim to relocate about 500,000 people from downtown to this district by 2035.
“Population at the sub-centre will be controlled within 1.3 million
people, ” said a narrator at the Beijing Municipal Centre Planning Exhibition Hall.
On Jan 11, the Beijing municipal government began operation at its new office in Tongzhou after six years of planning.
The district, which covers an area of about 906sq km, is being planned to be free from big city problems such as pollution, traffic congestion and a shortage of public services.
It is divided into several major clusters including administration and management, cultural tourism, manufacturing, business and services as well as technology and innovation.
“This will be a modern town that will be world-class with high-tech facilities.
“Environmental protection will be our top priority to provide the people a comfortable and good working environment, ” added the narrator, who could not be named.
Tree-planting projects have been carried out and the sub-centre is aiming to see 40% of greenery by 2035.
An integrated public transportation hub is also being constructed, connecting the Jing-Jin-Ji (Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei) Development Region.
Apart from this, a big thing is coming to this township too – the Universal amusement park.
When it opens in 2021, the park – the Universal Beijing Resort – will be the largest Universal Studios in the world and is expected to welcome 10 million visitors a year.
Covering an area of 5.4sq km, the park houses water, land, two theme parks and seven hotels.
According to the plan, there will be seven themed zones in the park, namely the Kungfu Panda, Transformers, Minions, Harry Potter, Jurassic World, Hollywood and Water World.
According to the Global Attractions Attendance Report Theme Index 2018, theme parks in China have seen a significant growth in the number of visitors last year, China Daily reported.
“It will take you three days and two nights to finish playing all the games, ” said an official from the municipal office.
Currently, there are two major theme parks in Beijing.
And the famous ones in the country include Shanghai Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland and Chimelong Paradise in Shenzhen.
The development of Tongzhou is among the major construction projects of Beijing this year.
Earlier this year, the municipal government has announced a list of 300 construction projects for the city to improve the people’s livelihoods.
Setting aside a budget of 235bil yuan (RM140bil), the projects included the construction and upgrading of infrastructure, and the development of high-end technological industries.
Tongzhou connects to Hangzhou of Zhejiang province by the Grand Canal and was a main passageway for river transport into Beijing.
Tongzhou is also home to a large number of historical sites and relics.
Efforts have been made to preserve these places including three ancient villages in the vicinity – Zhangjiawan, Tongzhoucheng and Lucheng.
One of them is the 56m-tall Dipamkar Pagoda, which also served as the “lighthouse” for the merchant ships sailing on the Grand Canal.
Given the name Dipamkar, which means lamp bearer in Sanskrit, the pagoda was built during the reign of Xiaoming Emperor (542-557) of the Northern Zhou Dynasty.
Sitting within the compound of the ancient “Three Temples and One Pagoda” building complex, it was meant for the safekeeping of Buddha relics including several hundreds of Buddha sarira, crystalline traces found in the ashes after cremation.
The pagoda was rebuilt in the Liao Dynasty (916-1125) and restored several times after that.
Octagonal in shape, the port portion of the pagoda collapsed in an earthquake in 1679, and was rebuilt 17 years later.
“This is an important landmark, when merchants sailing along the Grand Canal see it, they know the capital is not far away, ” said an officer from the Beijing government.
Built in 468BC, the 1,700km Grand Canal is the longest and oldest man-made canal in the world with a history of over 2,500 years.
It runs from south to the north, passing by several provinces, which include Shandong, Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu.
Although the canal has lost its purpose and has long been abandoned as a water passage, it has been beautified and restored into a tourist attraction.
Visitors to Tongzhou can also take a stroll at the Tongzhou Grand Canal Culture Park or go for a boat ride on the canal to enjoy the scenery while learning about its history.