Tag Archives: promoting cross border cooperation

Hekou’s 600 million yuan “boondoggle”

Editor’s noteThe following article was written by Patrick Scally and originally published on the website Go Kunming. It is reprinted here in its entirety.

The media in Yunnan, and around the country, is often overly fond of splashy headlines containing enormous investment figures. The articles that follow are generally paeans to a modernizing society and the wonders of Chinese-style capitalism. Failure is rarely chronicled. That is far from the case in Hekou (河口), which is currently receiving plenty of negative journalistic buzz due to a development project provincial officials have deemed an embarrassing and costly “boondoggle”.

At issue is a 270 million yuan (US$43 million) construction project on the banks of the Honghe River (红河). The China-Asean International Tourist Cultural Scenic Corridor had been under construction since 2011, when the government approved development on the site, a kilometer-long stretch of uninhabited land.

Designed to be a showpiece of the city’s economic growth, the enterprise has become an object of public scorn and a symbol of miserable urban planning. The entire riverside development is now slated to be torn down at a cost surpassing that of its construction. Conservatively estimated at 300 million yuan (US$48 million), demolition costs include the projected expenses of paying back investors and cleaning up the site.

Although the corridor was nearly finished, its 150 mixed-use shopping and business venues are currently being razed and will eventually be converted into public green space. The decision to halt and ultimately destroy the venture is a “policy adjustment” by the local government, according to a South China Morning Post (SCMP) report.

Concerns over poor planning and improper waste disposal were raised by local residents as the project neared completion. Complaints increased and the endeavor, which was hoped to complement and augment natural scenery, became a blight that authorities describe as a “negative influence” on the riverside.

Investors, shop owners and even low-level government planners were apparently surprised when the announcement came to dismantle the corridor. “It never occurred to us that a new order [for demolition] would come so soon,” an unnamed city planner told the SCMP. Locals have taken things more in stride, using a still-standing plaza for ballroom dancing in the evenings.

Hekou sits on the shore of the Honghe River and is joined with the Vietnamese city of Lào Cai by bridge. For most of the past decade, provincial developers have been throwing money at the area in hopes of turning the city into a major trade depot connecting China, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries.

In 2008, a highway connecting Hekou County to major cities in neighboring countries was completed and work is well underway on a railway project linking Kunming to Hekou and, eventually, Hanoi. For now, however, it appears the 80,000 residents of Hekou will have to wait to see a venue that properly expresses their town’s importance as a regional trade hub.


Leave a Comment

Filed under China, Economic development, SLIDER, Vietnam, Yunnan Province

Remarks: Strengthening Cooperation & Promoting Cross-border Transport Logistics

GMS workshop

NOTE: The following is the English language transcription of a speech by Yang Shiji, Vice Director of the Yunnan Provincial Government’s Research Office, presented on June 5, 2013 at a workshop on GMS (Greater Mekong Subregion) Freight Transport Association Capacity Building.  The first part contains an interesting portrayal of connectivity potentials and a brief history of transportation linkages between China and Southeast Asia.  The reader should keep in mind that the area in discussion contains some of the most difficult terrain in the world, but the speaker’s main concerns are inter-government cooperation and the harmonization of customs and trade procedures throughout the region.   The final portion of the speech provides a framework to improve connectivity and upgrade logistical services within the region. 

For reference, a map of the Greater Mekong Subregion is linked here

“Strengthening Cooperation and Promoting Cross-border Transport Logistics in the Greater Mekong Subregion”

Cross-border logistics is an emerging industry combining several composite services such as transport, warehousing, and information.  Connecting production with consumption and linking countries to the outside world, the industry is composed of tangible and intangible factors and covers the entire process from product manufacturing to commodity flow.  Therefore, giving full play to the function and role of transport and upgrading the efficiency of cross-border logistic transport will have significant impact on all aspects of the economic and social lives of the countries in the GMS.  With the maturation of China’s market economy, a professional and efficient logistic system has been an indispensible factor for upgrading the quality of its economic functions, the income of its enterprises, and an accelerator for its entire national economy.

Located at the junction of China and Southeast Asia, the South Asian Subcontinent, Yunnan borders with Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar, and shares with them a 4060 km national boundary line, about one-fifth of China’s total land border.  It has 25 frontier counties, 23 national entry ports, and over 100 trading channels for border residents.  To its east Yunnan is linked to the Zhujiang River delta and the Yangtze River delta economic circles, and to its south it has direct access from three routes, east, central, and west, to Hanoi, Bangkok, Singapore, and Rangoon via the Kunming-Bangkok highway and the Pan-Asia Railway, currently under construction.  It is the gateway to the vast western hinterland of China to its north.  To its west, it has access to the Indian Ocean via Myanmar.  In a word, the province enjoys the locational advantage in “connecting with two oceans, the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean, and linking with three major markets in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.” Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under China, DOCUMENTS, Economic development, GMS, Laos, Mekong River, Myanmar/Burma, Regional Relations, Technology, Thailand, Vietnam