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The sports dream of China’s Xiongan New Area

By Chen Yaping 13 Oct 2017

Xiongan New Area of Hebei Province held its first marathon race on September 24th after its official establishment in April. More than 3,000 runners has participated the event, many of them traveling over 100 kilometers from Beijing. The marathon race has not only helped drive development of the sports industry in Xiongan, but also has helped it become a tourist-attracting spectacle.

Located in a couple hours south of Beijing, Xiongan is designed to advance the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. According to China’s ambitious blueprint for development, Xiongan is designated to become Beijing’s sub-center, with a population of at least 2.5 million and an area of 2,000 square kilometers, the size of Shenzhen, after more than a decade.  

In September, China released a ten-year plan to promote the development of fitness and leisure sports in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. The plan urges the region to form a coordinated model for fitness and leisure sports by 2025. At the same time, the number of active sports participants in the region will reach up to 41.5 million in the total.

Under the plan, Xiongan will become an established center for one of five sports business segments in the region. That is to say, a world leading fitness and leisure sports pilot zone in the southern suburb of Beijing, will be established in accord with Xiongan’s political and economic status.

The question arises, then, about how to best utilize the value created by Xiongan’s sports industry? Yutang understands that efforts can be made in the following few aspects. 

First of all, Xiongan, consisting of Anxin County, Xiong County and Rongcheng County, has by design, positioned itself as a new green city, which will contribute to its sports tourism industry in the future.

From the aspect of natual resources, Baiyang Lake, located in Anxin County of Xiongan New Area, is the largest freshwater lake in northern China. According to Hebei sports governing body, efforts will be made to utilize the rich natural lakefront resources to help develop fitness and leisure sports like dragon boat racing, water sports, marathons and cycling.

By incorporating hot springs, local culture, and existing tourism resources, Baiyang Lake can be built into an extraordinary destination for sports tourists from all over the world. At the same time, the region can also serve as a popular sports town for athletes.    

In addition to sports tourism, Xiongan can also foster businesses, such as smart venues, sporting goods manufacturing and sports training.

According to a report by China Daily, over 450 million sports suits, jackets, windbreakers and pants were made in Rongcheng last year, reflecting a total value of 25.6 billion yuan. As a county widely-known for producing clothing, Rongcheng can actively take this opportunity to integrate sports business strategies into its traditional sportwear industry. While Xiong County, the Home of Kongfu in the new area, has the potential to host major sporting events as well as develop aspects of its sports training services.

Besides mass participation events like marathon races, Xiongan can also develop its professional sports. Baoding City, where Xiongan situated, is the famous hometown of retired four-time Olympic diving champion Guo Jingjing and shooting gold medalist Pang Wei. Although it has not yet established its own professional sporting clubs or events, Xiongan is poised to turn itself into a cradle of professional athletes.

Currently, Hebei Province has 4 professional soccer teams, namely, the Chinese Super League outfit Hebei China Fortune, the China League One clubs Shijiazhuang Everbright and Baoding Rongda, and China League Two side Hebei Jingying. Hebei China Fortune is now building its soccer training base in Gu’an County, very close to Xiongan, which may bring more sports resources into the New Area.

In addition to this, the province also has a National Basketball League (NBL) club, Hebei Xianglan, which was established in June 2016. With the rapid development of Xiongan’s sports economy, it is expected that an increasing number of professional clubs will be established accordingly.

Following the success of the country's economic zones in the Pearl River Delta and Yangtze River Delta regions, Xiongan is expected to use mass participation events, professional sports and sports tourism to accelerate its overall development. In the future, residents of the New Area will be able to enjoy convenient public sports services, including smart venues, fitness equipment and sports tourism attractions.

Proofread by William Logsdon 

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