Tourists visit the Bai Causeway of the West Lake in Hangzhou, capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province, on August 25 (XINHUA)
The Hangzhou G20 (Group of 20) Summit on September 4-5 is not just an occasion for world leaders and top entrepreneurs to come together and discuss the trends and solutions for global economic development. The residents of the Mantoushan Community in the Shangcheng District, Hangzhou, have also been reaping the benefits from the summit's preparations.
"I had never imagined that I would have been living in a house like this," said 64-year-old Xuan Wenying, pointing to the new house behind her.
Rows of new and neatly-painted houses with white walls and grey tiles have recently appeared in the Mantoushan Community, each containing a kitchen and a bathroom. All households now have access to tap water and natural gas.
"It [my old house] was not like this before. There was no flush toilet and I had to go out to clean my bucket toilet more than 100 meters away every day," Xuan told Beijing Review. She has been living in the community for 25 years. "My old house was in such a poor condition that when there was a typhoon, we had to go to the nearby school [to take refuge]."
The community where Xuan lives is a symbol of Hangzhou's rich history—the city being China's former capital during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). However, because of this, the community—identified as one of the sites of the former imperial city—was unable to carry out large-scale restoration works as many old buildings in the area are under protection. For decades, people in the community had been haunted by the presence of decrepit houses, narrow roads and web-like electricity wires and more.
"Because of the poor conditions, many young people left the community, leaving mostly old people living here," Lu Jun, an official from the Nanxing Sub-district of the Shangcheng District of Hangzhou, told Beijing Review. But, preparing for the G20 Summit provided an opportunity to revamp the old community, he said.
In October last year, a program to restore the Mantoushan Community was launched with the goal of upgrading it to an urban landscape featuring the unique character of the Southern Song Dynasty's former imperial capital. During the process, many old houses were reinforced while others were rebuilt strictly according to their original style and appearance.
"We will make sure that the citizens in Hangzhou can benefit from the G20 Summit's preparations. G20-related projects are closely relevant to people's lives," said Miao Chengchao, Party Chief of the Shangcheng District in Hangzhou.
In order to develop a better program for the renovation works, Lu and his colleagues inspected every house in the community and came up with different renovation plans for different houses.
"For instance, Madam Xuan's house was classified as a D-level decrepit house, which means that people would not be able to live in the house even after its reinforcement," said Lu. Based on this, Xuan's house was reconstructed according to its original size, height and appearance. Meanwhile, the inner structure was redesigned, making space for a kitchen and a bathroom.
To ensure that each house could be equipped with an indoor toilet, the government also renovated underground infrastructure and built a new sewage network. In addition, the tangled electricity wires in the air were replaced by an underground network.
Soon after the 2016 Spring Festival (February 8), Xuan and her neighbors moved back to their new homes. "We have new houses to live in and we did not pay a cent for the renovation. In addition, during the renovation works, we also got 3,000 yuan ($451) from the government to subsidize our rental fees," said Xuan.
The revamped community maintains its traditional appearance, but its residents can now enjoy broader streets, as well as a neighborhood center which includes a vegetable market, a library, a calligraphy center and an entertainment center. The newly opened 14,000-square-meter Mantoushan Park serves as the community's natural "oxygen bar."
The community has more than 6,000 native residents living in 2,646 households, of which around 1,000 households have benefited from the first phase of the renovation program. "In the first phase, we did not demolish and rebuild all the houses; instead, we rebuilt those that had to be rebuilt and reinforced others. This way, we can spend less money and help more people," Miao told Beijing Review.
According to Miao, the government allocated approximately 100 million yuan ($15 million) for the first phase of the project. "We originally had a plan to rebuild all the houses and the budget was around 700 million yuan ($105 million). But finally we had to abandon that plan due to the high costs."
Lu told Beijing Review that the second and third phases of the renovation program have already started. "During the first phase, some of the work was not well planned. We will do better in the next two phases," Lu said.
The preparations for the G20 Summit in Hangzhou also accelerated the construction of a series of distinctive towns in Hangzhou, including the 3-square-km Yuhuang Shannan Fund Town in the Shangcheng District, which is now home to 810 financial institutions, hence the name. These financial institutions have invested 124 billion yuan ($18.65 billion) into 629 real-economy projects. According to Miao, the town will expand to cover 5 square km by 2018.
Yuhuang Shannan Fund Town was formally established in 2015. The old factories in the town, which was previously a village suffering from much pollution, were renovated into conference centers and those residential buildings were renovated into independent office buildings for fund enterprises. Residents were given new apartments in exchange.
"You can see these small buildings amid the forest and lakes. Each house is a fund company," said Miao.
In order to attract more financial institutions, Shangcheng local government has strived to provide high-quality services. All relevant government agencies have established offices in the town to ensure that enterprises can enjoy one-stop services.
Ruan Zhiyi, President of Safe & Rich Adventure Capital Co. Ltd., told Beijing Review that the G20 Summit will raise Hangzhou's image in the world community, "which, in return, will bring more business opportunities to us."
The booming town also provides the government with increased tax revenues. In 2015, the tax revenue of the town reached 400 million yuan ($60 million). Miao estimated that revenue this year could easily exceed 1 billion yuan ($150 million).
"The significance of the fund town goes beyond the huge tax revenue. More importantly, it has made an important contribution to the development of the real economy in Zhejiang Province, and even China," Miao added.
Copyedited by Francisco Little
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