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A Langfang resident, still only a place to sleep

May 16, 2015

konjaku: Langfang is the prefectural-level city with jurisdiction over Yongqing. A resident of Langfang apparently does not expect to see an improvement in their own quality of life from large construction projects like the Taiwan Industrial New City. The resident is hoping rather for “medical facilities, sanitation, education and cultural resources.”

I have been translating 睡城 (shuicheng) as “bed-town” which is actually a Japanese word referring to towns outside Tokyo. such as Hachoji. Every day many commuters from Hachioji take trains into central Tokyo to their jobs. However, residents of Hachioji do not lack facilities and infrastructure. In China, shuicheng, literally “sleep-city,” does refer to a town in which people can sleep, but not live. In the following article, the Langfang resident Zhao Rong’s son has to go to high school in Tianjin.

This article supports the contention of Zheng Xinye ( that central Beijing is full of people, that is to say, congested, because people who live in outlying areas end up going into Beijing for basic services, such as seeing a doctor.
Photo: Hebei province Langfang City, Yongqing county at a small garden at an intersection next to the “Taiwan Industrial New City,”and the “International Clothing City,” project, an old man sits and rests.


“ As far as I am concerned, Langfang is nothing but a bed-town,” Zhao Rong, a financial manager, has lived in Langfang for some ten years. Almost every day he drives in to Beijing for work, and returns here to sleep.

During those ten years, the “Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei unification” idea has come and gone several times, under different names. Having gone through this before, the residents of Langfang, a town midway between Beijing and Tianjin, are only cautiously optimistic about the latest “unification.” Previous efforts have only made the cities more prosperous, and done nothing for the surrounding countryside.

As for benefits Zhao Rong would like to see from the current unification plan, the first is improvements in the traffic system. He takes the Jinghu (Beijing-Shanghai) freeway to go to work. If that is crowded, he has no alternate route. More traffic facilities will also encourage people to live outside Beijing.

But Zhao Rong wants much more than that. His job is in Beijing, but his registered permanent residence is in Langfang. His child goes to high school in Tianjin, his wife has a job in Langfang. At present they are like a family living apart. Therefore Zhao Rong places his hopes in the future. “After ‘unification,’ will we be able to enjoy all the benefits Beijing residents receive? Will my child be able to move on to the next level of education without any obstacles thrown in the way?” To put that in plainer language: does unification mean the college entrance exam system will also be unified?

Zhao Rong worries that if public services do not improve in Langfang, unification will simply result in more people crowded into Beijing city. He can’t remember the last time he went to a clinic to see a doctor in Langfang. For one thing, options for medical treatment in Langfang are limited, but besides that, it has become customary for everyone to think, “going in to Beijing is somehow better.”

Zhao Rong hopes that medical facilities, sanitation, education and cultural resources will become more equally distributed. “If some of these things are divided among Langfang and other cities on the Beijing periphery, then people will naturally follow after and settle where they can make use of them.”

During the previous “unification” attempts over the previous ten years, such as creating the ”Bohai sea economic zone” or the “Capital ring economic zone,” Zhao Rong has observed the same phenomenon: in a ring around the periphery of Beijing, house prices suddenly rose. Just as on previous similar circumstances, even though the government has not yet definitely set down what it is going to do, Langfang house prices are starting to rise sharply

On 03-31, at Langfang Kongque [Peacock] City, everywhere cars with license plates from Beijing and Tianjin are parked. Sitting on a spacious sofa in the sales building, Wang Yu’s face looked very tired. Since 03-09, when several buildings in the development were opened for sale, she has not had a day off. Every day she is at work until 8 or nine in the evening dealing with customers, all from Beijing. “The price of these buildings is 8 to 10,000 yuan per square meter. Last week a customer came from Beijing and bought 52 two-story small size units.”

“Thy have a lot of 38 squares, and those will be good to rent once we buy them” said a middle-aged woman with a Beijing accent over the phone, standing in the display area. Shortly afterward she went to inquire with the salesperson, and before an hour had passed she had bought three 38 square meter units. She said she was buying them as an investment.
Wang Yu said, the next time a new building is offered, she estimates it will be 300 to 500 yuan more expensive (per square meter). Searching for house prices on the net, at the beginning of 2013 in Langfang prices averaged at 6699 yuan per square meter, but now were at 7277 yuan, a rise of 578 yuan.

All over Gu’an County, which is under the jurisdiction of Langfang (a prefectural-level city), there are signs announcing the “Beijing New Airport, “ real estate company ads saying ”Grab the low-lying land before the airplanes start flying.” For new residential developments in Gu’an county, prices are rising faster than in those in Langfang city, as much as 1000 to 2000 yuan per square meter.

A Langfang city official said all this is just movement of the markets, nothing about it to criticize. But Zhao Rong, with his experience in the financial sector, thinks all this real estate speculation is not a good thing. Langfang is already a bedtown, but if during the unification process it is somehow set off to greater advantage in regards to Beijing and Tianjin, many of those employed in those cities may desire to come and buy homes in Langfang, then what will happen? One Langfang official said, “We don’t want to turn into another Yanjiao, a mere prop for Beijing.”

The Beijing Number 2 Airport, called the “Beijing New Airport,” is at the southern edge of Beijing, at the intersection of Daxing district and Langfang in Hebei. It will be an international large scale airport. Construction started in 2014, and it is estimated it will be ready for use in 2018. The new airport has had a large effect on house prices in the vicinity. In Gu’an County various real estate companies have decided their best slogans are “Grab up the low-lying land of the New Airport city,” and ”Get in on the value of airport district land!” Since the project began, real estate prices in Gu’an have steadily risen.

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