Hangzhou keen to wow G-20 visitors

Hangzhou marked the start of a 100-day countdown to the G-20 summit with a launch event at Huanglong Stadium yesterday. China holds the G-20 presidency this year and will host the meeting in September.
Hangzhou marked the start of a 100-day countdown to the G-20 summit with a launch event at Huanglong Stadium yesterday. China holds the G-20 presidency this year and will host the meeting in September.PHOTO: XINHUA

Massive facelift part of long-term planning and will transform city, lift lives: Party boss

HANGZHOU • The massive facelift and infrastructure expansion of Hangzhou ahead of the Group of 20 (G-20) summit is part of long-term planning for the scenic city, said its Communist Party boss yesterday.

Mr Zhao Yide said investments in infrastructure and venues for the event were in line with the city's budget. "Every penny is being counted as we prepare for the summit," he told reporters at a media briefing.

"We are routinely making sure we are being thrifty and frugal in every aspect of the preparation work."

He would not reveal the total budget. Earlier reports said Hangzhou's fiscal spending is expected to reach 125 billion yuan (S$26 billion) this year.

"We will use this opportunity to take the development of the city to the next stage," said Mr Zhao.

He added that the investment would transform Hangzhou into a modern city and improve people's lives, reported the South China Morning Post.

The summit will run for two days starting on Sept 4 and will be attended by the leaders of the world's top 20 economies. It is the first time that China is hosting the event.

The city, which has nine million residents, has mobilised more than 760,000 volunteers to serve the summit. Many of them are retired or elderly people who will be members of street security patrol teams, according to Xinhua news agency.

Hangzhou resident Kong Shengdong said many older locals are busy learning some simple English phrases so they can help foreigners with directions.

The city has also prepared a fleet of 100 saloon cars specially for the summit. Behind the wheels will be veteran English-speaking taxi drivers with first-aid skills.

Yesterday marked the start of a 100-day countdown to the summit. More than 5,000 staff and volunteers attended the countdown launch event at Huanglong Stadium.

More than 650 infrastructure renovation projects - covering environmental treatment, airport expressways and hotels for state guests - are expected to be completed by the end of next month, three months ahead of the summit opening.

Nearby Huzhou city has shut down 230 limestone mines to ensure cleaner air for the event.

Hangzhou, home to e-commerce giant Alibaba and robot maker Siasun, became the 10th Chinese city to see its gross domestic product (GDP) surpass 1 trillion yuan last year. In the first quarter of this year, its GDP topped 221.4 billion yuan, up 10.3 per cent year-on-year.

From a more strategic point of point, the city is a potent symbol of China's rise and of its ambitions. Hangzhou was the terminus of the Silk Road eight centuries ago.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a press briefing on preparations for the meeting that China plans to invite more developing countries to the summit, reported Xinhua.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2016, with the headline 'Hangzhou keen to wow G-20 visitors'. Print Edition | Subscribe