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Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster to see organized development

Wang Yanfei/Yang Cheng
Updated: Feb 28,2018 9:06 AM     China Daily

The government will promote more balanced development in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster, with particular focus on improving transportation, environmental protection and industrial upgrades this year, according to the nation’s top economic regulator.

The government will also build a project database and help facilitate the deployment of key projects this year in the region, according to an official document.

Such efforts come as the central government intends to ease the mega-city syndrome of the capital, ease congestion and integrate regional economies for more balanced development.

By the end of 2020, around 1,000 manufacturing industries and 300 logistics centers in Beijing will be either shut down or relocated to nearby places, as part of efforts to relocate Beijing’s non-capital functions, according to Liu Bozheng, deputy head of Beijing coordinated development office.

A number of wholesale markets and educational and medical organizations will be moved to surrounding regions in an orderly manner, he said during a press conference held in January.

Xu Datong, Party chief of Tianjin Economic and Technology Development Area, said a hefty investment of 66.4 billion yuan ($10.53 billion) was injected to a modern service district devoted to industrial convergence among Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei last year, involving 393 projects.

The area has launched strategies to lure more headquarters of multinational and research institutes to tackle the challenges.

Some efforts to promote more balanced development have started to bear fruit, data showed.

In the first three quarters in 2017, the service sector accounted for 82 percent of Beijing’s total GDP during the period, during which finance, information and technology industries together accounted for more than 50 percent of the GDP.

Hebei province, which used to rely greatly on heavy industries has appeared to gather pace in restructuring, as 58.6 million metric tons of iron and 56.3 million tons of steel production capacity have been reduced since 2014.

Amid the rebalancing process, some valuable non-capital functions are expected to move to Xiongan New Area, which is expected to promote regional development together with Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

Located some 100 kilometers from Beijing, the new area is designed to become part of key urban development plans integrating the capital with surrounding areas.

The government is expected to introduce a slew of supportive measures in finance, tax, technology and opening-up policies “as required”, according to an official with the NDRC.

During the early stage of development, the government will put particular focus on infrastructural construction and improve transportation connecting the region, say, the high speed railway network, the official said.

While the overall construction plan has yet to be released to the public, some efforts in improving transportation have been already in place.

The intercity railway connecting Beijing and Xiongan area is expected to start construction in March, according to a report by China Railway Design Corp.

Upon completion of the railways, travel time from Xiongan to Beijing will be reduced to 30 minutes, down by 60 percent compared to the current time.

Looking ahead, top authorities might need to balance well the different roles of Xiongan and surrounding regions, and the value chains and ecosystems need to be studied before making policies, according to Zhou Muzhi, an economics professor at Tokyo Keizai University.

He said research institutions that rely heavily on government financial support and yet with no strict geographical limitations, for instance, might be appropriate to move to Xiongan.