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Rags to riches: Wholesale spot now high-tech center

By DU JUAN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-17 07:09
A view of Baolan Finance Innovation Center, taken on Nov 19, 2015. [Photo/VCG]

Beijing's largest clothing wholesale markets have transformed into a finance and high-tech innovation center as the city works on upgrading its development structures, focusing on the core functions.

Located near the Beijing Zoo in Xicheng district, these clothing wholesale markets began in the 1980s and over the years swelled to about 13,000 stalls covering more than 350,000 square meters.

However, the markets were blamed for causing severe traffic congestion, safety concerns and environmental disorders. It also was considered unfit for the capital's core functions set by the central government, which are politics, culture, international communication and science and technological innovation.

By Nov 30, after two years of work, the government had moved out all vendors from the Beijing Zoo wholesale markets.

One of the buildings that used to host those vendors has been transformed into an innovation center and been named the Baolan Finance Innovation Center.

Many vendors that had been in the building, some for decades, moved to Tianjin and Hebei province to restart their businesses. Many were unwilling at first to move but their mindset changed from objection to understanding.

Most companies that have moved into the building are in the finance and technology industries. It is fully occupied.

The government continues to attract more high-tech companies.

A Shanghai-based digital company named Ucloud has been offered 15 million yuan ($2.39 million) as rental subsidies to locate in the new center.

China's internet security company 360 Enterprise Security Group will move into another former wholesale market soon. This should help draw small and medium-sized companies in the industry to the area.

"I'm very confident about the development of this area since the local government has shown its determination to transfer this land into a gathering place for financial and high-tech industries," said Li Ran, general manager of BL Stock Co, a real estate operation company that manages the Baolan Finance Innovation Center.

The district will leave some land to improve roads and build parking lots. The traffic in the area will definitely be better.

Fang Ning, head of the Institute of Political Science at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the transformation is a vivid example of "red wall consciousness"-how the local government is offering better services to the public to build a better city.

Since the Zhongnanhai leadership compound is in Xicheng district, people who live and work there have developed a loyalty to the Party, a sense of responsibility and a faith to serve the public's interest.

This common awareness is called "red wall consciousness" since 1999 because the walls of Zhongnanhai are red. In January 2016, the central leadership raised "Four Consciousnesses"-the ideology, the whole, the core and the line-to help build the Party through inner-Party discipline and directives.

"The upgraded Beijing Zoo area will become an influential international center which can further contribute to the economic growth of the capital," Fang said.

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