From a Poverty County to a City of Olympics: the Legend of Ice and Snow in Chongli

Start the journey from Beijing, travel 220 KM towards the northwest, there is a small city called Chongli, which is located among the mountains of Yinshan and Yanshan. On July 31, 2015, Thomas Bach...
by China India Dialogue

Start the journey from Beijing, travel 220 KM towards the northwest, there is a small city called Chongli, which is located among the mountains of Yinshan and Yanshan.

On July 31, 2015, Thomas Bach, the Chairman of International Olympic Committee, announced that Zhangjiakou City will jointly host the 2022 Winter Olympics with the Municipal Committee and Government of Beijing.

From that moment, the unknown small city became world-famous just on one night.


New look of the city

In Chongli, the streets are full of sculptures and display boards related to the Winter Olympics. Street lights are in snowflake shapes. Hotels are named after snow themes. Ski equipment rental shops can be found everywhere. The entire city is decorated with various kinds of snow elements. On the flat asphalt roads, vehicles with nonlocal license plates such as Beijing and Tianjin can be seen everywhere. Premium coffee houses and star-rated hotels are not new things anymore. Even international competitions of ice and snow sports, in recent years, have become “regulars” over here.  

A group of IMBA students from Beijing Normal University had come to Chongli for their investigation and survey. After learning that years ago the city was still a national-level poverty-stricken county, they were completely shocked and said, “That is really incredible!”

The current Chongli is totally renewed.

In the downtown area, premium residential buildings have replaced the previous old buildings and bungalows. Buildings that once nobody cared for in the market were sold out in a short time. Housing prices have increased at a high speed. Local villagers moved out of the rough adobe houses, and started their new life in new pattern yards.

In Shangwopu Village, the “Snow Mountain Yigu Resort”, a construction aid project supported by Fulong Group, is under construction. Local residents are excited and eager to see the new buildings and beautiful scenes. In the new residence, utilities of electric power, tap water and gas are completely set up. Besides settling down, local people also acquire opportunities to run the business of homestay and farmhouses. As what they say, “With the construction for the Olympic Winter Games, the government's policy advantages, the support of enterprises…we have caught up with the new time!”


The treasures hidden in green hills and clear waters

In the early time of winter, the sky was blue, and the air was clean and fresh in Chongli.

“The air here is really better and fresher than Beijing.” Mr. Qian, a skiing amateur from Beijing, said that he often took his wife and daughter to spend weekend here. Mr. Qian’s 9-year-old girl laughed and said that the snow and blue sky here are her favorite.

After the successful bidding for Olympics, the first policy made by Chongli District government was to expand the greens coverage to more mountains. In recent years, Chongli District consistently promote afforestation, and maintain a rate of no less than 100,000 mu per year. Nowadays, in Chongli, the forest land area is 183.69 million mu with the forest coverage rate of 52.38%, and the grassland area is 1.51 million mu, of which 1.506 million mu are natural and take 99.7% of the total grassland area. Since the implementation of the Beijing-Tianjin Sandstorm Source Control Project in 2000, with the constructions of more than a decade, it has achieved significant ecological, social, and economic benefits. The vegetation coverage of enclosure grassland has increased from 25-35% in 2000 to the current 60-70%, and the vegetation coverage rate of artificial grassland has increased up to more than 90%.

The leading officers of Chongli Forestry Bureau have said, Chongli will increase the forest coverage rate in accordance with the standards of the Winter Olympics. Based on the forecast, there will be another 513,000 mu forest land by 2022. On the occasion, 67% of the land in Chongli will be covered by greens.

The excellent ecological environment does not only bring natural benefits to local people, but also brings lots of development opportunities to Chongli. The beautiful scene has become a special business card for Chongli.


Breakthrough with the wind of ski industry

In Chongli, from the construction of the first ski resort in 1996, nowadays there are already six ski resorts and more than 300 hotels, which entertain millions of skiers every year. It does not only display the transformation of skiing sports from competitive to public, but also an epitome of the overall start-up process of the ski industry in China.

In November 2016, the National Sports General Administration and other three departments jointly released "Ice and Snow Sports Development Plan (2016-2025)", which states, “By 2020, the overall scale of China's ice and snow industry will reach up to 600 billion yuan. By 2025, it will increase to be 1,000 billion yuan."

With the opportunity of market demand, the policy support, and intensive capital investment, the skiing industry is being developed with a high speed. In Chongli, a series of large-scale new projects have been completed, which include the “Four Seasons Town Tourist Resort” project that was supported by Fulong Holiding with a total investment of 26 billion yuan. Nowadays, Chongli has become a new domestic center of ski sports. In the journey of upgrading and developing, the skiing industry in Chongli has been constantly renewed to be more diversified and comprehensive, and has become an indispensable force for promoting the local economic development.

Zhang Litao, the General Manager of Fulong Ski Resort, said that through the innovation of design and commercial operation, they concentrate on creating a ski resort labeled with “Scenic, Amusing, Cultural”. It does not only have ski slopes of various levels, but also professional skiing trainings and snow playground for family entertainment. In order to attract young tourists, Fulong designed mountaintop coffee house and DJ square in the ski field, and also organized activities such as the snowfield music and culture festivals and creative fairs, which provide the tourists a special cultural experience.

Chongli is on its development journey with opportunities brought by ice and snow. With their diligence, tens and thousands of people in Zhongli will witness the wonderful transformation of this winter Olympic city. It is believed that in the coming future, Chongli will be a landmark because of its legend of ice and snow both domestic and global.


(This article is co-authored by China-India Dialogue and the International MBA program of Beijing Normal University)