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Kunming puts its vision for the future on display

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The ubiquitous demolition and construction throughout Kunming raises the question: What will Kunming look like when much of the city's current development drive has been completed? Some of the answers to this question are now on display.

The current exhibit at the Kunming Urban Planning Museum, which runs through July 31, offers visitors a glimpse into the city's vision for the future. Here are some highlights of Kunming's plans for the coming decade:

New airport still scheduled for end of 2011
The 23 billion yuan (US$3.4 billion) new airport 28 kilometers east of Kunming's city center will become the fourth-most important Chinese air gateway after Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai when it opens at the end of 2011, according to city officials.

Once tentatively named Kunming Zheng He International Airport, the new airport seems to be nameless once again. It is expected to have two runways capable of handling the largest jumbo jets and will have capacity for up to 65 million passengers and 2.3 million tons of air cargo annually.

Wujiaba International Airport, currently Kunming's only operational airport, may be preserved for some regional flights as well as helicopter services.

Kunming population to reach eight million
City planners expect the "medium to long-term" population of the Kunming metropolitan area to reach seven to eight million. Current estimates place the population at 6.3 million. The metropolitan area includes Chenggong New Area (呈贡新区), Jinning County on Dianchi Lake's south shore and the satellite cities of Songming, Yiliang, Anning and Fumin.

The total population of Kunming plus the surrounding cities of Qujing, Yuxi and Chuxiong is expected to reach 10 million over the same period.

Chenggong to grow in importance
The current population of Chenggong New Area along the eastern shore of Dianchi has reportedly reached 200,000 and will rise to 300,000 by 2020.

Chenggong is expected to become Kunming's center of government, commerce and education, with a new financial district, train station, university campuses, and the new seat of the Kunming municipal government.

Chenggong's growth may have to wait until after completion of the first phase of the new metro system, which will link the area to downtown.

Kunming urban rail network operational by 2012, complete by 2018
The first phase of the new Kunming is scheduled to start carrying passengers by 2012. The first phase will link Chenggong New Area in the south to northern Kunming via downtown. Construction on the underground sections started in May with work currently focused on Chuncheng Lu and Beijing Lu.

Scheduled to be completely finished in 2018, the 162-kilometer rail network will consist of six lines and 94 stations.

Chenggong to become high speed rail hub
Work has begun on 143 kilometers of rail to be completed in 2012 that will link existing lines to Chenggong's new train station, which will become Kunming's main train station once operational.

Eventually this new station will have high speed rail links to Shanghai, Guangxi, Chongqing, Chengdu and possibly Dali and other Asian destinations.

Kunming's South Railway Station will continue to serve intra-province routes, such as those to Qujing and Dali.

Distribution centers to facilitate international trade
As part of its drive to become China's gateway for Southeast and South Asian trade, Kunming will construct 14 warehousing and distribution centers around the third ring road, which will be completed in September of this year. Distribution centers will also be built at the new airport and in Chenggong, Jinning, Anning and Songming.

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