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Focus on Henan’s Economy: Zhengzhou Metropolitan Area 2

New Urbanization: Zhengzhou metropolitan area

The biggest difference between new urbanization and old urbanization in Henan province lies in the way how government promotes the urbanization of major cities. Before 21st century, the urbanization policy of Henan province was scattered and inconsistent among different cities. Government tailored the policy to the comparative advantage of each city and worked out urbanization promotion plans separately. For example, Luoyang and Kaifeng were known for their long histories and historic relics. Based on that, the local government of Luoyang city and Kaifeng city focused on the preservation of historic relics and target to promote the boom of the two cities through tourism. The capital city Zhengzhou, which situated between Luoyang and Kaifeng, was a purpose-built capital city and served the political and economic center in the province before 2000. However, this urbanization policy got stuck as Kaifeng and Luoyang lagged greatly behind other tourism cities such as Xi’an, Hangzhou, to name a few. Those two cities became completely dependent on tourism and there was little development in the urban infrastructure, industry network and modern finance. On the other hand, Zhengzhou has benefited a lot from its advanced transportation network connecting to almost every major city in China and stood out in this relatively poor province.

Since 2000, Henan government has changed the urbanization policy. The new urbanization aims to promote urban-rural integration and to build a larger Zhengzhou metropolitan area. In this metro area, Zhengzhou constitutes a nucleus and outlying second-tier to third-tier cities such as Shangqiu, Xinzheng, and Kaifeng try to achieve a high degree

1 The numbers are adjusted according to the exchange rate published on Jun 26, 2012 of integration. The Henan government, by posing such a policy, hoped Zhengzhou could act as a lead and guide the surrounding areas to a higher degree of urbanization.

In order to promote the integration of this metro area, Henan government has spent a lot on transportation network in the past 10 years. Zhengzhou-Kaifeng Expressway was built in 2006 and shuttle bus leaves every 10 minutes. Zhengshaoluo Expressway, which starts from Zhengzhou, passes Dengfeng, the city where Shaolin Temple is located, and ends in Luoyang, enable the three cities to be closely connected, leading to a highly integrated economic community. Zhengzhou-Xinzheng Expressway will be put into use until the end of 2012 and car drivers will be able to save 2 hours in their journey to Xinzheng.

Apart from those road construction projects inside Henan province, the government also initiated several cross-provincial highways of great importance, including Zhengzhou-Xi’an high-speed railway, Zhengzhou-Beijing high-speed railway etc.