In northern China's Hebei Province, the largest freshwater area is known as the Baiyangdian Wetlands. It's popular with tourists and because it's not far from Beijing, it's been tapped to be a new urban center called the Xiongan New Area. Beijing has become increasingly overcrowded and polluted, so government officials are looking at expansion areas for industry, housing and other businesses. The ecosystem in the wetlands comprises hundreds of species of fish, plants and wildlife that could be in danger from the development of housing and urban infrastructure. While generations of families have lived and fished there for years, most of them seem in favor of the project. The President of China, Xi Jinping, has taken a personal interest in the project and is keen to see it proceed.
Environmentalists are concerned that transforming thousands of acres of lakes and forested areas into an urban hub will devastate the fishing industry as well as many species of wildlife. While recent efforts to clean up the lake have seen some success, nearby towns that manufacture clothing and shoes are still contributing to the pollution of some waterways and critics do not see that improving with increased commercial development.