Serious business

A new business hub: Lanzhou New Area

Get to know this sprawling logistics hub in northwestern China. Words by JUSTIN HEIFETZ, illustrations by REMKO HEEMSKERK

Lanzhou New Area is a sprawling district with a free trade zone and logistics hub in China’s northwestern Gansu Province, accessible by high-speed rail from Xi’an (about a three-hour journey). The area was built on a sandy plateau where little existed before, as part of the country’s plans to expand its major industries westward. While it was once derided as a ghost town – with newly developed buildings but few residents – the city is beginning to come alive.

The new area, about 60 kilometres north of provincial capital Lanzhou, lies near Xining in Qinghai Province and Yinchuan in Ningxia Province, major cities in China’s interior. The government intends for Lanzhou New Area to be at the centre of this economic region.

The zone is home to big industrial parks and plants, many for automobile production. Shenzhen-based Amer International Group, one of the world’s largest copper companies, recently established operations here. According to the government, investment will total RMB 139 billion on 325 projects in the new area this year, covering everything from industrial development to cultural tourism. Most of the companies are Chinese.

The government also said late last year that it had spent nearly RMB 11 billion building universities and hospitals. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing: major infrastructure projects have been halted in the new area, including a tram system and a network of underground tunnels for utility lines. Despite these setbacks, Lanzhou’s geographic advantages are significant – and are likely to keep the new area powering ahead.

Lanzhou Zhongchuan International Airport

New business hub, Lanzhou
Kai Wen/Imaginechina

One of Lanzhou New Area’s greatest strengths is its proximity to this airport, a major air hub for western China.

Imported Goods Wholesale Centre

New business hub, Lanzhou

This complex is a shopping centre for imported goods, including fruit, cosmetics, baby products, coffee and wine.

Lanzhou Silk Road Cultural Relics Park

New business hub, Lanzhou
Pei Qiang Lz/Imaginechina

An oddball theme park filled with replicas of ancient monuments from around the world, including the Sphinx and the Parthenon.

Binhu Lake Area

New business hub, Lanzhou
Pei Qiang Lz/Imaginechina

Apartment buildings surround the Binhu artificial lake. Residents also get to gaze on the main road stretching over the water. A pair of red arches accent the bridge.

Cathay Dragon flies to Xi’an from Hong Kong seven times a week

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