Planning City Economic Development Strategy with the Mayor of Liuyang
Liuyang is a beautiful city in the Eastern part of Hunan province. It is surrounded by gorgeous natural sites but economic development has not caught up with Changsha (capital of Hunan) and other major Chinese cities.
The population of the city has recently surpassed 1.5 million and: it is relatively small by Chinese standards but larger than many well-known cities around the world. Thus, it has sufficient human resources to execute a comprehensive development strategy. However, many of the opportunities for economic growth which are currently available involve various aspects and extents of further industrialization, which could have a negative impact on the natural scenery and quality of life in the city.
Hence, Liuyang faces the age-old question of how to balance environmental sustainability and economic development.
Many smaller Chinese cities are grappling with the same dilemma and I’ve seen it first-hand throughout the past decade of travels and official visits around China. This is why I was particularly excited to participate in a discussion about the economic development strategy of Liuyang with the city mayor, Wang Xiongwen (王雄文). He was very interested in learning about best global practices and took careful notes on the suggestions offered by a panel of experts.
My contribution was to suggest learning from European towns which are well-known for their historical importance or natural beauty. Through developing the tourism industry, offering high-quality services and a more relaxed way of life (good work/life balance), hosting large annual events (e.g., forums and conferences), they have attracted considerable interest and attention. Some fantastic Chinese cities such as Dali (Yunnan) have managed to turn into centers for attracting quite a few young people with a more laid-back mindset and a proclivity for artistic creativity.
All of this is easier said than done, but it should be a much better alternative to developing heavy industry at the cost of decimating the natural beauty of a gorgeous area.
I continue to be excited to see what the future of Liuyang holds and happy to contribute more to its development in the future!