On February 12, a view of Bell Tower of Xi'an in a bright light show from high above. [photo/Xinhua]
Shaanxi Opera, yummy foods, colored lanterns, temple fairs, folk customs, intangible heritages -- Xi’an, a city full of traditional flavors of Chinese New Year, is so impressive that “visitors are reluctant to leave and want to come again”.
The campaign “Spring Festival in Xi'an, Most Cultural and Traditional” at the beginning of 2018 went viral in all social media of China, making the cultural tour of “Great Xi’an” in the Chinese New Year very popular, with some 30 sessions of traditional festive programs gaining more than 180 million followers online. More than 10 million visitors from home and abroad were welcomed in the city within some 20 days, and Xi’an ranked as the fourth hottest destination in China during the Chinese New Year.
On March 21, another important activity, the spring trip to Xi’an themed on “Blooming China - Fascinating Xi’an” was initiated, with the city, an ancient capital with a thousand years’ history, engaged in efforts to remodel its cultural intellectual property and to start a new era of cultural tourism based on a fresh self-confidence.
The newly decorated embrasured watchtower at the Xi'an City Wall Lantern Show for Spring Festival. [photo/Xinhua]
On the evening of February 8, the 2018 Xi’an city wall lantern show for Spring Festival was opened at Xi'an's Ming dynasty city wall. Tens of thousands of red lanterns featuring “fish-turned dragon”, “flowers and birds”, and “dreams and flying” made the magnificent ancient capital even more resplendent.
Openness, inclusiveness and self-confidence -- Great Xi’an represents the DNA of Chinese cultures
Shehuo performances of drums and gongs, lion dances, prayer for blessings, lantern shows, riddle guessing games, float parades, light shows of unmanned aerial vehicles, digital 3D displays seen by the naked eyes – it was all there.
“Science and technology and fashion” and “ancient capital and ancient rhythm” were interwoven, offering time-travel across all the scenic spots of the city including the Great Tang All Day Mall, the City Wall, Daming Palace, Huaqing Hot Spring, Louguantai Taoist Garden. In the minds of residents and visitors, Xi’an was awash with the traditional “cultural flavors of Chinese New Year”.
On February 26, at a temple fair held at Small Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an, tourists from Argentina (first left and second left) experience Chinese New Year with works of sugar painting in hand. [Photo/Xinhua]
February 8th marked the 11th day of the first month on the Chinese lunar calendar which was almost the end of the Chinese New Year, but the number of visitors to Xi’an remained high. At the grand temple fair for gathering blessings, a number of artistic performance such as Shehuo folk music, an intangible heritage show, and a Shaanxi Opera were held, attracting large crowds.
“We have never seen wonderful celebration activities like those on the Chinese New Year’s eve and day, which look like a Disneyland of China, with so much drum-beatings, lion dances and dragon dances on the dreamlike stage with grand spectacle,” commented Mary and her husband Kevin from the American state of Kansas about the Chinese New Year festival in Great Xi’an.
They also wrote a letter to Wang Yongkang, secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi’an Municipal Committee and the top leader of Xi’an, extolling their unforgettable experience in the city, focusing on the campaign “Spring Festival in Xi’an, Most Cultural and Traditional”.
“The whole scenario is very mind blowing and it is really an audio-visual feast. It is really a dream to see a show combining ancient civilization and modern hard technology in this ancient capital city of Xi’an. Especially the incorporation of high technology in the show has made the Chinese New Year in the city more fashionable, more fascinating and more internationalized. My friends in Shanghai said to me it was amazing after seeing the video. I have been very proud to be a native of Xi’an and now I am more proud to say, if you want to have a tour, come to Xi’an! And it is worth everything!” said Guo Yang, a native of Xi’an now working in Shanghai.
“The rapid development and huge changes of Xi’an in recent years really stun me. The activity of New Year of Xi’an in Great Tang All Day Mall is very traditional and infectious. My fellow traveler who is from Hangzhou said, compared with the mild and tender nature of Hangzhou, the new year in Xi’an is more lively, more wonderful, and more people-centered and we will spend Chinese New Year here in Xi’an next time,” said a lady surnamed Wang from Chengdu, Sichuan Province, who traveled with her family to Xi’an for the Chinese New Year.
The pit of Terra Cotta Warriors is located in Lintong district, Xi’an City of Shaanxi Province. The warriors were discovered in 1974 and are honored as “the eighth wonder of the world” and “one of the greatest discoveries of archaeological history in the 20th century".
According to statistics, during the long vacation of Chinese New Year, Xi’an City received 12.7 million visitors/times, a rise of 66.56 percent year on year, generating tourism income of 10.32 billion yuan, a growth of 137.08 percent over the same period, and ranking Xi’an No 4 among tourist cities in China with income of over 10 billion yuan.
Netizens also voted Xi’an “the hottest tourist destination in the 2018 Chinese New Year”, “the city with best night views in China” and “the city with the richest feasts and best traditions in the Chinese New Year”. In Billboard of Public Reputation of China Travel and Report on Trips of Spring Festival of the Year of the Dog, which is a report and ranking concerning tourism jointly prepared by some of China’s well-known and popular tourist websites such as ctrip.com, qunar.com, and lvmama.com, Xi’an overtook Chengdu and Hangzhou to rank No 3 of the ten best destinations in China and No 4 of the ten best destinations for long trips in China.
“As an ancient capital city with a history of a thousand years, Xi’an is one of the root cities of Chinese civilization. We must comprehensively raise its cultural confidence and promote its cultural prosperity. Xi’an will deeply excavate the heyday cultures of the Han and Tang dynasties and implement cultural restoration projects to awaken the common memory of Chinese people and build the city into a landmark of the common spiritual home of the Chinese nation,” said Wang Yongkang, secretary of the Communist Party of Xi’an in an interview promoting its becoming a Silk Road cultural highland and “powerful cultural city”.
The end of Spring Festival or the holiday of Chinese New Year did not stop the pace of Xi’an City’s cultural development. After the event of “Spring Festival in Xi’an, Most Cultural and Traditional”, the “Blooming China Fascinating Xi’an” spring trip was launched on March 21. It was themed on “viewing spring, visiting spring, collecting spring, playing spring, seeing spring, tasting spring, exploring spring and missing spring” and covered 28 major programs, some 100 featured events, and some 200 spring trip destinations. Upholding the “Four Confidences”, the Great Xi’an has comprehensively initiated a new era of cultural tourism.
Foreign visitors cycle on the ancient city wall in Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province. [Photo/Xinhua]
The existing City Wall in Xi’an was built in the Ming dynasty, some 600 years ago.
Science and technology, innovation, talents -- “return of the peacock”, Great Xi’an, represents attraction.
“Hard technology changes the world and leads the future”. On Nov 7 last year, some 1,000 experts, scholars and entrepreneurs from home and abroad attended the cutting-edge “Global Hard and Core Technology Conference 2017”. A variety of frontier elements of hard technology, such as artificial intelligence, space technology, biotechnology, optoelectronic chips, new materials, new energy, and intelligent manufacturing, made their presence felt in Xi’an.
“My comparison of the history of Silicon Valley in the US and that of Xi’an finds that Xi’an is not short of the factors that are critical to the rising of Silicon Valley and even has some advantages over it. I am convinced that with the development of hard technology in Xi’an, the city is likely to become the next Silicon Valley,” said Mi Lei, the initiator of the concept of hard technology, an associate research fellow of the Xi'an Institute of Optics and Precision Mechanics, member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and co-founder of Casstar, an incubator for startup companies.
On November 7, 2017, a technician demonstrates the operation of a human body 3D imager. [Photo/Xinhua]
On the same day, the Global Hard and Core Technology Conference 2017 was held in Xi’an of Shaanxi, putting on 16 forums and programs focused on artificial intelligence, space technology, biotechnology, optoelectronic chips, new materials, new energy and intelligent manufacturing.
At the headstream of the concept of hard technology, Xi’an has developed the Eighth Route Army (or the eight major industries of hard technology, namely space technology, optoelectronic chips, new energy, new materials, information technology, biotechnology, artificial intelligence and intelligent manufacturing) which has positive momentum and huge potential for development. Xi’an will make the development of hard technology industries the core of carrying out the national strategy of “Made in China 2025” and strive to build itself into the strategy’s model city. “Xi’an will be built into the global capital of hard technology!” said Wang Yongkang, Secretary of the Communist Party of Xi’an Municipal Committee at the hard technology conference.
“Where there are phoenix trees phoenixes will surely come.” All resources of innovation and entrepreneurship from home and abroad will come to Xi’an at high speed and all vitality of innovation and entrepreneurship from home and abroad will be released in Xi’an as it becomes the capital of innovation and entrepreneurship along the Belt and Road.
An administrative ecosystem with minimum red tape, high efficiency and the best investment environment will be built where the reform of “deregulation, management, service” is deepened, formalities streamlined, and the “last kilometer” of implementing policies stressed. The goal is to make Xi’an a paradise for development of enterprises and a land of good fortune for entrepreneurs.
Xi’an nowadays is ushering in a most favorable environment and within the last half short year has become a hot spot for global investments: Hainan Airlines, JD.com, Geely Group, top firms of express delivery service and other businesses have arrived in Xi’an, the total value of projects signed at the 2017 Silk Road International Exposition reached over 1100 billion yuan, and Overseas Chinese Town Group signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement with the Xi’an Municipal Government with a total amount of 238 billion yuan.
On March 7, officers from the Yudou Road Police Station and the Household Registration Administrative Brigade of Gaoxin Sub-office of Xi’an Municipal Public Security Bureau visited colleges based in Xi’an to publicize the latest administrative policy on household registration.
The policy hopes to stimulate college graduates to work in Xi’an and to guide them using a smart phone application called “handy household registration” as they complete relevant formalities. In early 2018, the Xi’an Municipal Government launched a “5-year action plan for employment of one million college graduates in Xi’an” which strives to fulfill the goal of “retaining 5 million college graduates in 5 years”.
Financial aid of 1 to 5 million yuan was granted to individual startup companies, while graduates became entitled to a discount of 20 percent in purchasing housing and reduction and exemption of income tax. They were also able to find employment for their spouse in Xi’an -- the “most favorable policies in history” for attracting talents issued by Xi’an authorities. The policies provided specialized coordination, upgraded management and in-depth optimization of the talent incentives in terms of employment and entrepreneurship and commercialization of research achievements.
Xi’an authorities also held special on-campus job fairs and talent attraction promotion conferences in prestigious colleges of China such as Tsinghua University, Peking University and Renmin University to introduce high-level talents to Xi’an and publicize the new incentive policies. Important employers in Xi’an were also organized by Xi’an authorities to hold 70 sessions of targeted recruitment programs in 30 other prestigious colleges in 20 cities in China.
For obtaining good human resources, Xi’an has tried to offer the most favorable policies for permanent resident status in China. According to statistics, a total of 250,000 people were granted permanent resident status in Xi’an, with 140,000 people receiving the grant from March to December; 110,000 of them were favored in accordance with their educational background. In February 2018, Xi’an issued the 2.0 version of its household registration policy, with conditions eased and formalities further streamlined, which led to immigration of 85,544 people to the city, including 2,885 graduates with Master’s degrees or above, 27,331 undergraduates and 2,140 accomplished talents.
A series of incentive policies featuring an approach of “knowing talents, caring talents, utilizing talents, accommodating talents, gathering talents” has highlighted the “sincerity of Xi’an”. Since 2017, the unprecedentedly favorable policies of Xi’an and its improved service system have attracted a large number of talents to Xi’an, taking the city to the fourth rank in terms of net talent inflow and making it a “highland of talents” in China.
As the starting point of the ancient Silk Road that gathered a large number of camel trade caravans, Xi’an used to be the hub and bridge connecting the East and the West and was deeply branded by the Tang Dynasty, one of the golden eras in the history of China. Xi’an today is gathering a great “magnetic power”, as charming as the capital city of the Tang Dynasty, to present a new face that is innovative, inclusive and open to the world.
On December 6, 2017, a high-speed railway between Xi’an and Chengdu began operations. The train departing from the north station of Xi’an crosses the super long span bridge on the Xi’an-Chengdu railway.
Streamlined administration and power delegation, coupled with close relations between government and business -- Xi’an is building the best business environment.
On the first day of work after the Chinese New Year holiday, Yan Ming found on his office desk a letter saying “Best Wishes from Great Xi’an” and bearing the signatures of Wang Yongkang, Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi’an Municipal Committee and Shangguan Jiqing, Mayor of Xi’an.
“Since my business career in 1987, I have been used to the underprivileged status of businessmen in the relations between government and business, but this is the first time I have received greetings from top authorities of the city and I had mixed feelings seeing that,” said Yan Ming, a Shaanxi-based member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference national committee.
“Since 2017, I have strongly felt the great changes taking place in the business environment of Xi’an. The revolution of administrative efficiency carried out by Xi’an has provided strong support to privately-run businesses as a whole. Previously, we met with various difficulties and obstacles when going through administrative formalities with government agencies; even simple matters like rebuilding projects of shanty town were very time-consuming,” said Shi Guilu, Chairman of Rongmin Holding Group of Shaanxi. “But now the working efficiency of government agencies is very high. The formalities of our projects in Weiyang District and Lianhu District were directly handled by the heads of the two districts at our company, with deadlines set to the departments concerned for delivering good services. Visits by government to enterprises deeply move me.”
On August 19, 2017, well known Chinese business leaders such as Jack Ma, Liu Chuanzhi and Guo Guangchang gathered at the 1st World Xi’an Entrepreneurs Convention, drawing the world’s attention to the “new starting point” of the Silk Road Economic Belt. The spirit of Xi’an entrepreneurs in the new era of “integrity and industry, enlightenment and openness, innovation and excellence” has been carried forward.
On August 20, 2017, at the site of the “Roundtable Dialogue of Zhejiang Business and Xi’an” of the 1st World Xi’an Entrepreneurs Convention, Jack Ma of Alibaba Group and the Chairman of the Zhejiang General Chamber of Commerce called on all members of the chamber to make investments in Great Xi’an.
“Xi’an is endeavoring to create an excellent business environment with comprehensive reforms. With confidence in the development of Xi’an, we will take an active part in the building of the Belt and Road Initiative and intensify our investments in Xi’an and its high-technology, internationalization,” said Ma at the 1st World Xi’an Entrepreneurs Convention.
From “cigarette-end revolution”, “toilet revolution”, to “administrative efficiency revolution”, Xi’an began its pragmatic works with the “small matters” that are closely associated with the people’s happiness, launching a great revolution in the development mode of the city.
No cigarette ends on the ground, more “technological” public toilets, “maximum one errand” for government formality -- with such measures taken, Xi’an, an ancient cultural city with a thousand-year-long history as a capital, is now advancing toward the goal of being “an international metropolis”, taking with it the spirit of the Qinling Mountains and breaking through the “city wall mentality”.
This is the “third restroom” in the Great Wild Goose Pagoda scenic spot. [Photo/Xinhua]
In the city center of Xi’an, near the 600 year-old Bell Tower. Formerly dilapidated, the public toilet now receives the public with a new look.
In order to raise the city image and civilization level, Xi’an will build 1,135 detached public toilets in the city center, and raise and upgrade all 2,000 existing public toilets.
On July 18, Xi’an signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Geely Holding Group, which will make investments in the Xi’an Economic and Technological Development Zone on whole industrial chain projects including manufacture of vehicles, production of spare parts and supporting logistics.
“It took only two short months to finalize the settlement of the project of Geely new energy auto in the zone after preliminary communications, which sets a record in negotiation for a vehicle project in China and even in the world. The introduction of this project has won the city the praise of the world for “Xi’an Efficiency”.
On January 30, the Tencent Innovation and Entrepreneurship Town, which is led by China’s information technology giant Tencent, based on the incubation system for innovation and entrepreneurship and intended to attract and gather the best high growth projects, was officially settled in the Chanba Ecological Zone of Xi’an. Pony Ma, Chairman and CEO of Tencent, said, “We will integrate our efforts with the advantageous industries of Xi’an to seek win-win development and contribute to the development of Great Xi’an.”
The permanent venue of the Euro-Asia Economic Forum seen from a flying unmanned aerial vehicle. [Photo/Xinhua]
A new urban water system is being formed covering Guangyun Pool in Chanba, Qujiang Pool in Tang Town, Doumen Reservoir of Fenghe River, and Hancheng Lake in Weiyang. Focused on the strategic development of expediting the building of ecological civilization and “five in one”, and following strategic planning based on the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi’an maintains a flexible approach to water system governance, and is committed to gradually restoring the famous scene “Eight Waters Surrounding Chang’an” of ancient times.
“The changes taking place in the past two years are very impressive, and reflect the driving force and executive power for rapid growth. We will work with Shaanxi Province and Xi’an City to build ‘China’s Memphis’,” said Zhang Weiliang, Chairman and CEO of HNA Modern Logistics.
With advantages in resources of culture and history, military industry, technology talents, colleges, geographical location, and a transport hub function, and a variety of good opportunities such as the Belt and Road Initiative, Xi’an has become a hot spot for attracting investments from home and abroad.
“There is a great show in Xi’an and only with joint force can good shows be performed one after another.” The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Xi’an in 2017 reached 746.985 billion yuan, moving up five places in the national ranking.
“Faced with stiff competition from peers, we do not have spare energy to shout empty slogans, or spare time to make arguments, or even to consider how to pass the buck. With mission and responsibility laid on our shoulders, what we can do is to make up our minds and unite as one to work hard and fast!” said Wang Yongkang, Secretary of the Communist Party of the China Xi’an Municipal Committee.