By Julian Wong Nov.21.2008
In: urban planning

Update from Tianjin: Report on the Ground

Yesterday, The Green Leap Forward took to the road to Tianjin again, this time as part of a US-delegation organized by the US-China Green Energy Council (UCGEC) exploring the green tech potential of Tianjin.  One of the stops was a visit the site of the proposed Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city.   Not much more to report from our previous post, but we got some cool visuals.  Upon arrival, we were quickly ushered into an enclosed building,  only to be shown poster exhibits that is basically a rehash of the master plan already available on their website.  The saving grace was a large model of the city that we took some pictures of:

But the current reality is much browner.  Our cameraman (also the same person who writes this blog), had to frantically take pictures of the truly awe-inspiring vastness of the 30 sq km of mostly salt-laden wasteland as our shuttle bus left the site (pardon the reflections from the bus window):

These picture perhaps do not do justice, but the overwhelming feeling was that we were surrounded by a hopelessly vast wasteland.  An information brochure we received states that greater Tianjin region contains 1,200 sq km of wastelands, with lots of it degraded by years of salt-farming.  The wastelands represent a huge opportunity for development.  If the Tianjin eco-city project can successfully demonstrate the feasibility of turning brown to green, it could pave the way for a more ecologically harmonious development for the rest of the region.

The Green Leap Forward thanks UCGEC for organizing the trip.  A post on the energy-water nexus, a topic of one of the panel sessions of the conference that UCGEC held in Beijing earlier this week, is coming up next.

Comments (10)

  1. Charlie Nov.21.2008@2:16 pm Reply

    Hi Julian: No one beats China in producing scale models! One question though, how do the developers justify a golf course in a water scarce region?

  2. Brendan Nov.21.2008@2:55 pm Reply

    Are those wastelands or wetlands? Sometimes the distinction seems to get lost among land developers in China…

  3. Christine Nov.21.2008@3:05 pm Reply

    any word on their toxin remediation strategy for the chemical -laden land and groundwater sources?

  4. Brian Nov.24.2008@1:28 pm Reply

    A colleague at Nankai Univeristy has told me his department is collaborating with a University in Beijing on a project aiming to purify existing water sources in the eco-city area. I can seek more details and put you in contact if you have further interest.

  5. Julian Nov.24.2008@4:04 pm Reply

    Thanks for everyone’s comments! Here are my quick responses:

    #2: Is there a golf course?! I must have missed that. I agree with you, Charlie, on the irony of the golf courses in such a place. If there is one, it is probably to prove a point on the part of the Singapore planners that with the proper water recycling/management systems, even golf courses are possible in a water scarce region, as they are in Singapore. Not defending it, just speculating on the underlying thinking.

    #3: Wastelands, according to the official literature, Brendan. Much of the land is degraded by extensive salt farming such that the lands are described as saline-alkaline wastelands (盐碱荒地). The degraded quality of the land was actually a selling point to the eco-city developers…they wanted to show it was possible to rehabilitate a site with a degraded environment and change it into a liveable township.

    #4: Sorry, did not find out about that, Christine. Happy to put you in touch with Brian of #5! Thanks for the offer, Brian!

  6. Frank Nov.29.2008@4:53 pm Reply

    A great report. Tje project and its progress are really impressive. However, we remember Mao’s “Great leap forward” in late 1950s, which was a big failure. Hope this “Green Leap” project were not be similar one. I am wondering how how much govt and social funding has to be poured into this project, what is efficiency and effectness to build this eco-city in this wetland (salt farm land, not wasteland). If we use same funds to build an eco-subcity near Shanghai or Beijing, the effect and infulence will be much more significant, for instance, to build the world fair village in Shanghai to be such an eco-city. In addition, in this global finance crisis time, it would be better to put money to other urgent place. Again, the Great leap led to a “great” desaster, I wish the “Green Leap” won’t getting into a “green” disorder — breaking the nature balance.

  7. David Dec.1.2009@1:48 am Reply

    em… although this project is profit driven, it’s still a G to G project driven top-down. Anybody heard anything about the Sino-Singapore Nanjing Eco Hi-tech Island in the Yangtze River ?

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