Moving Westwards

Background, Zhengzhou

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The New York Times reports about investments in China’s Far West:

At a conference this week, Chinese officials called the investment in western China a strategic move, designed to raise the living standards of the region’s people and shift growth away from China’s prosperous coastal areas.

The areas include Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, North China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region, Southwest China’s Tibet autonomous region, and Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

via Spending for Stability in China’s Far West – NYTimes.com.

And not only the government is moving westwards. Also electronics manufacturer Foxconn – moves westwards, to Zhengzhou that is:

Foxconn and senior officials of Zhenzhou and Henan are working on the details of an agreement to build the plant, said a spokesman for the municipal government.

The first phase of the plant will measure 133 (!!) hectares.

The new plant is to employ 300,000 people in the long run. About 100,000 people are to be recruited in the near future, said a recruitment advertisement on the official website of Henan’s Hebi city.

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Progress in Zhengzhou…

Zhengzhou

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DVD salesman 2009

16 February 2009

DVD Salesman 2010

3 April 2010

In February 2009 we started the Go West Project with a visit to Zhengzhou. The city made a big impression on us. So big, that we’ve spent the last year trying to find the answers to the questions that we had when we visited Zhengzhou in 2009. Last week, we went again to Henan’s capital. We met new people, and we saw old friends. It was good to be back, to see how the city changed. It’s development continued: the traffic got much worse. People told us that in Zhengzhou every day 1800 (!!) new cars hit the road. But not only on a large scale development is visible. Also, or maybe especially, on a small scale you see progress. For example in the mobile venue of this DVD salesman we met again on the parking lot of the new CBD.

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One night in Zhengzhou…

Zhengzhou

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Girls playing computergames

Zhengzhou is a city with a vibrant night life, varying from all kinds of restaurants, 24 hour bowling centers to hard core clubbing in local venue Club V8. A report in pictures.

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The sound of a city

Zhengzhou

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Zhengzhou is a noisy city. It is one of the first things one notices when entering the central shopping street. It’s much noisier than, let’s say, Shanghai or Beijing (let alone cities in the rest of the world). In fact the volume of background sounds is so high, that it might be better to speak of foreground sounds. Not only do you hear the humming of the traffic, and the chattering of people, but also hundreds of commercials.

Every shop, from the smallest barber to the biggest mall, has a speaker outside in the street playing a tape to attract customers. “Everything for 2 yuan!!! Everything for 2 yuan!!! Everything for 2 yuan!!!” Continuously the same message. “The best leather bags for the lowest prices. Buy now! The best leather bags for the lowest prices. Buy now! The best leather bags for the lowest prices. Buy now!” Well, you get the idea.

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Zhengzhou, Central Business District

Zhengzhou

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The Central Business District is designed by Japanese architect Kurukowa. This new urban area consists of a circular shopping mall of 2 km which is still under construction. The apartment buildings are finished and mostly sold, but still empty, due to speculations.  

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“Zhengzhou is a business city”

Zhengzhou

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There’s a woman asleep on the red sofa in the lobby of the Home Inn, one of the middle end hotels in the center of Zhengzhou. It always strikes me how people in China can sit down and doze away just about anywhere (see sleepingchinese.com for some really uncomfortable positions).

We walk up to the counter and talk to Patty, an English language student from Zhengzhou who does her internship in this hotel. “Can you show us a map of the city?”, we ask. She takes a tourist map, unfolds it on the counter and starts pointing: Home Inn, trainstation, city center… “Does Zhengzhou have any old buildings?”, we ask her. Patty doesn’t seem to understand: “All what?” She grabs pen and paper and hands it to us. “Old buildings?”, we write down. She takes another pen and writes down the answer in big caps:

NO

“If you want to see old buildings”, she says, “go to Luoyang. This is a business city.” We ask her to show us where the most important sights in Zhengzhou are. She points three things on the map: the pagoda, the main shopping street and the Central Business District. “A lot of new buildings”, Patty says. “Very modern.”

Our first impression of Zhengzhou: a city with more than 7 million inhabitants without old buildings. And one of its main sights is the newly built business district.

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Evergreens

Zhengzhou

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 zz_castle-and-chalet

A development in the Northeast of the city of Zhengzhou was started in the nineties, to lift up the area. The buildings were hotels and spas. The area has known more active times in its existence than nowadays.

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