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Two Ancient Capitals to Merge
As the implementation of a new urbanplanning project, Xianyang and Xi'an, two historic cities in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, are scheduled to merge to form one city in 2007.

Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, with a history of more than 3,100 years, was the capital of 13 feudal dynasties, including those in the period of great prosperity such as the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) and the Tang Dynasty (6l8 A.D.- 907 A.D.).

Built more than 2,350 years ago, Xianyang, 20 kilometers northwest of Xi'an, was the capital of the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.-207 B.C.), the first feudal dynasty in Chinese history.

Addressing an international urban planning seminar, He Hongxing, director of the Urban Planning Office of Xi'an, said that, while continuing to focus on the development of its central districts, Xi'an has also begun to explore the development potential of its outlying areas.

As a result, the downtown area of Xianyang, currently borderingthe northwest suburbs of Xi'an, will soon merge into Xi'an.

Located on the Guanzhong Plain, Xi'an and Xianyang share similar geographic features and climates.

Meanwhile, since Xianyang was founded, the two cities have conducted frequent and numerous exchanges and cooperation in fields of economy, education, culture, science and technology so that residents of both cities share similar values, customs and lifestyles.

"The merger will enhance economic, travel and industrial integration and increase the competitive edge at both the domesticand the international level," said Zhao Min, expert at Shanghai Tongji University. Today, four freeways traverse Xi'an and Xianyang. One can drivefrom one city to the other in about 10 minutes.

Statistics show that in 2001, the GDPs of Xi'an and Xianyang ranked first and fourth in northwest China.

Meanwhile, academic and research institutions in the two citieshave laid the foundation for further and closer economic cooperation.

Liu Congbo, an expert who has long been immersed in studies on the economic integration of Xi'an and Xianyang, said that many large and medium enterprises based in Xi'an set up manufacturing bases in Xianyang, and thus their projects span both cities.

"The merging of the two cities into one is part of a general trend, and it is supported by popular sentiment," Liu said.

The cities, the most famous in Shaanxi in terms of their cultural and historic value, feature such works as the world-renowned terracotta warriors and horses in the Qin Shihuang Tomb in Xi'an and more than 200 tombs from the Han and Tang dynasties in the northern part of Xianyang.

Local tourism department officials say that the merger of the two cities will help accelerate the development of the tourism industry.

Experts predict that, upon completion of the five-year merging process, Xi'an and Xianyang will become the most powerful metropolis in western China.

(Xinhua News Agency November 14, 2002)

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