World Bulletin / News Desk
Business owner Hu Weibing weeps at the prospect of losing everything, including his home, after China's surprise announcement to transform a rural spot outside Beijing into a modern metropolis nearly three times the size of New York City.
The planned Xiongan New Area currently measures 2,000 square kilometres (772 square miles) and has less than one percent of Beijing's economic output, but last weekend’s announcement sparked a real estate speculation frenzy as out-of-town home buyers from across the country descended on the previously unknown area.
"It’s certainly good for Hebei and the regional economy, but it’s a disaster for mid- and small-sized business like ours," said Hu, staring at the bare concrete walls of the four-storey dream home he began building last year but will never be able to finish.
Though authorities have not yet told him what is next, he is bracing for things to progress in the fashion that has become typical for government mega-projects: forced relocation and modest monetary compensation.
The changes will scatter his 40 local employees, each painstakingly trained for two years to produce the winter jackets that Hu’s Yuhua Clothing Manufacturing sells to clients in Moscow.
And land prices elsewhere are guaranteed to be out of his reach.
"To build another factory or another villa like ours will be impossible. It's a terrible shame," he said quietly, unable to stop tears sliding down his face after devoting decades of his life to the business.
"There will be no way to ever compensate us, but this is a huge national issue, so whatever comes we must support it."
Investors will also be tracking the start of an EU summit where Brexit will once again be the focus of attention.
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