Sino-French Wuhan Ecological Demonstration City
In ancient China, there was a story about two dear friends that has been passed down through generations. During the Spring and Autumn Period ( 770- 476 BC), there was a man called Yu Boya who was a master of musical temperament and highly skilled in playing the guqin ( Chinese zither). Though being a well- known guqin player at that time, he believed that no one could truly understand his music, so he was upset about it.
One Mid- Autumn Festival night, Yu Boya was boating alone on the Hanyang River for sightseeing. With the gentle breeze and bright moon as his only companions, myriads of thoughts crowded into his mind, and he couldn’t help but play the guqin that he was carrying. The melodious music became more and more beautiful when it suddenly wowed a man on the bank. The man was a woodcutter who happened to pass by. When the rhythm rose to a crescendo, the man said, “What a wonderful melody! It sounds as grand as a high mountain,” and when the rhythm became smooth and lively, the man said, “How delightful! Now it sounds like an endlessly flowing river.”
Yu Boya was extremely thrilled, as he always expressed his emotions through his music, yet no
one could understand it. Now, in the middle of nowhere, he finally met the friend that he had been seeking for ages.
The woodcutter was named Zhong Ziqi. The two hit it off and decided to become sworn brothers, and they promised to meet each other at the same place again the next Mid-Autumn day.
A year went by and Yu Boya came to Hanyang River as scheduled, but he saw no sign of Zhong Ziqi at all. After inquiring with some local people, he learned that Zhong Ziqi had died of illness. Before dying, Ziqi left a note that he wanted to be buried at the riverbank so that he could appreciate Boya’s music again on the next Mid-Autumn day.
Hearing this, Yu Boya became deeply grieved. He came to Zhong Ziqi’s tomb, and pathetically played the tune High Mountains and Flowing Rivers that he composed. When the tune ended, he let out a big sigh and smashed his favorite guqin on the slate. Boya said woefully, “The only one who truly understands my music has died, and to whom else can I play the guqin in the future?”
Many people in later generations were greatly touched by the sincere friendship between Boya and Ziqi. Wuhan City is the birthplace of the epic story. Today, Zhong Ziqi’s tomb is still located on the Ma’an Mountain of Caidian District in Wuhan. Because of the tale of “Boya and Ziqi,” the culture of the beautiful city has deepened after years of accumulation.
Paris and Wuhan are only 4 km away!
How far is it from Wuhan, the city of “bosom friends,” to Paris, the city of romance? According to Wuhan natives, it is 4 kilometers!
That is true. In Wuhan City, over the Han River, there is a Sino- French Friendship Bridge stretching for 4.391 kilometers, which connects the Sino-French Wuhan Ecological Demonstration City at Caidian District and the departure station of China- Europe Train that goes directly to France.
It has been over one and a half centuries since the economic exchanges between Wuhan and France were established— over that time, people from the two places have developed a profound friendship. At the High- level Forum of
International Bosom Friends Culture held on the 28th of September 2017, Yu Xi—the senior reporter and Associate Director of Wuhan Foreign Cultural Exchange Association—told some stories that mark the friendship between the Chinese and the French.
The first ever person to open the door to China’s modern art of garments was Pierre Cardin, a wellknown French fashion designer.
The National Center for the Performing Arts, one of the landmark buildings in contemporary China was designed by Paul Andrew, a master architect from France.
Known as the Folk Ambassador who avidly promotes friendship between China and France, Alain Labat has excellent organizational skills and has helped hundreds of French secondary schools to connect with their counterparts in China so that they can build inter- school cooperation, and each year, those partner schools would send teachers and students to learn from each other. The Wuhan Foreign Language School and Lycée Montaigne Bordeaux are among those that have become sister schools.
Sophie Tedeschi, a young female artist from Paris, has paid multiple visits to Wuhan and has also lectured and held her art exhibitions at local colleges, including the Hubei Institute of Fine Arts, Jianghan University, the China University of Geosciences, and the Hubei University for Nationalities. Since 2011, local newspapers have published her Chinese zodiac paintings on their New Year issue six years in a row. Her excellent art works combine Chinese and Western elements, and have been favored by many Chinese readers. Some people even comment, “If I read newspapers during the Spring Festival, I would be curious to check out the new zodiac painting by that French artist.”
What’s more, the political and economic exchanges of the two countries have also become
On the 26th of March, 2014, President Xi Jinpin visited France. Witnessed by the leaders of the two countries, government representatives from China and France signed an MOU on building the Sino- French Wuhan Ecological Demonstration City in Wuhan. Later, the construction of a post- industrial urban area was kicked off in the Caidian District of Wuhan City, which became a sustainable eco- friendly demonstration city for China and France.
On the 23rd of February 2017, Bernard Cazeneuve, Prime Minister of France and Wang Xiaodong, the governor of Hubei Province, planted a gingko together at Houguan Lake National Wetland Park, which symbolized “a long lasting friendship marked by the co- constructed eco- city.”
With more and more exchanges at all levels between China and France, more people start to find their friends as in the tale of “Boya and Ziqi.”
When Chinese Opportunity meets with French Romance
In the hometown of “Boya and Ziqi,” the science, technology, and culture of China and France find a perfect meeting point.
At the foot of Ma’an Mountain, the landscape, city, and people are ready to embrace each other.
At the Sino- French Eco- city, romantic interactions are happening every now and then.
“With the opening of direct flights from Wuhan to Paris, the bond between the two cities has become deeper and deeper. Today, lots of Chinese faces from Wuhan can be seen in the streets of Paris, and likewise, many French people visit Wuhan to enjoy its cultural and historical landscapes and eco- friendly environment.” The Ambassador of France to China, Jean- Maurice Ripert, said on the Opening Ceremony of the 4th Cultural and Tourism Festival of the SinoFrench Wuhan Ecological Demonstration City on
Although this was his first visit to Wuhan and the Sino-French Wuhan Ecological Demonstration City since taking office, Mr. Ripert led a delegation of 40 French companies for inspection. It is thus clear that French companies have regarded Wuhan as an important city in China to develop their business.
They certainly had a rewarding trip. In order to optimize the investment environment for French companies, the Sino- French Ecological City has been a pioneer in China to promulgate the “16 Preferential Policies for French Companies,” which include the setting up of an industrial guidance fund of RMB 200 million yuan, a loan subsidy of up to 1 million yuan for each French firm, an incentive of up to 45 million yuan for French enterprise headquarters, and an incentive of 15 million yuan for the R&D centers established by French firms on the Fortune 500 list or industry leaders.
Favorable conditions will surely attract business and investment. On September 27th, themed by “Green, Open, and Innovative— Sharing New Chances in the Belt and Road Initiative,” the 4th Sino- French Urban Sustainable Development Forum was the site of signing ceremonies for 21 investment projects, including 10 French- invested projects in the fields of alternative power, with a total sum of investment reaching 126.2 billion yuan.
Will it damage the ecosystem or drain up resources, as traditional urban development does, to vigorously develop economy? Will it impose heavier burdens on the Earth, environment, or cities? As for the answers, according to urban planners, the planning of eco- cities is the role model for urban sustainable development. The Sino-French Eco-city is never meant to cut off from industrial chains, but to divert its development track and establish an eco- friendly industrial cluster, so as to make other enterprises realize that ecological protection is the general trend.
Therefore, at the initial planning stage of the Sino-French Eco-city, urban planners have adopted the concept of “counter- planning.” According to
them, “Urban design should never go against the nature of a landscape. Overcorrection can never happen. The buildings, like a stone rolling down a hill, should be accidentally and harmoniously ‘ dropped’ at the foot of the hill or on the riverside.” In order to preserve the original appearance of the landscape, all the urban building facilities should gently blend with environment.
Ecological protection should not only be the guiding principle for urban planning, but also for economic development. In terms of industrial forms, the 21 signed projects are either smart industries or asset- light ones.
Zheng Yuanbao, Chairman of the People’s Electronic Appliance Group, was appointed as the Business Attraction Ambassador of the SinoFrench Eco- city and signed an investment agreement on September 27th. According to Mr. Zheng, the natural resources in the eco- city are never meant to be consumed, as they are the breeding bed on which innovative or intelligent enterprises survive. If an enterprise wants to expand its business to the world, it must abandon the assetheavy approach that consumes resources and transition to high value- added and asset- light projects.
Mr. Zheng’s idea has gained recognition from many entrepreneurs. Quite a few enterprises on Fortune 500 list coming to the Eco- city have a common understanding: it is a lucrative business to “discuss ecological protection” nowadays. …
As a Wuhan native, it is our responsibility to tell a great Chinese story, promote the culture of friendship, constantly enhance the global influence of Hubei, and show the world an open Caidian, a friendly Hubei and an inclusive China. As the Sino- French Ecological Demonstration City is being constructed step by step, Caidian District or even Hubei Province has gained more and more regional influence in the interaction between China and France.
In the past, there was the epic tale of Boya and Ziqi, and today, when the reform and opening up is taking place, Caidian of Hubei will continue to write a new chapter in the Sino- French friendship, and make it the modern version of Boya and Ziqi.