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China to Flatten 700 Mountains for New Metropolis in the Desert

Saturday 8 December 2012

BEIJING (The Gurdian) – In what is being billed as the largest “mountain-moving project” in Chinese history, one of China’s biggest construction firms will spend $3.5 bln to flatten 700 mountains levelling the area Lanzhou, allowing developers to build a new metropolis on the outskirts of the north-western city.

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Lanzhou New Area is located in Qinwangchuan Basin in the north of the provincial capital Lanzhou, covering more than 800 km². It’s also near Xining city in Qinghai province and Yinchuan city of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, a key location.
A promotional video posted on the Lanzhou new area website shows a digitally-rendered cityscape of skyscrapers and parks. The camera zooms out from a large government building to reveal features of the area’s imagined urban topography: a clock tower, a new airport, an oil refinery, a light-rail system, and a stadium packed with cheering fans.

The Lanzhou New Area, 800 km² of land 80 km from the city, which is the provincial capital of arid Gansu province, could increase the region’s gross domestic product to $43 bln by 2030, according to the state-run China Daily. It has already attracted almost $11 bln of corporate investment.

The project will be China’s fifth “state-level development zone” and the first in the country’s rapidly developing interior, according to state media reports. According to the Guardian Others include Shanghai’s Pudong and Tianjin’s Binhai, home to a half-built, 120-building replica of Manhattan. China’s state council, its highest administrative authority, approved the Lanzhou project in August.

The first stage of the mountain-flattening initiative, which was reported on Tuesday by the China Economic Weekly magazine, began in late October and will eventually enable a new urban district almost 25 km² in size northeast of downtown Lanzhou – a small, but important part of the Lanzhou new area project to be built.

One of the country’s largest private companies: the Nanjing-based China Pacific Construction Group, headed by Yan Jiehe, is behind the initiative. The 52-year-old former teacher is portrayed in China as a sort of home-grown Donald Trump – ultra-ambitious and preternaturally gifted at navigating the country’s vast network of guanxi, or personal connections.

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