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More functions to be moved out of Beijing
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China has set goals for more coordinated Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei regional development in the next 15 years, mainly by transferring non-essential functions in Beijing to neighboring areas, according to an official document.

By 2017, major breakthroughs will be achieved in transport integration, environmental protection and industrial upgrading in the integrated region, says the document issued by the office of a leading group for the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area.

The document reveals key information of an outline of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integrated development program, which was approved by the Politburo’s Central Committee in April.

Beijing will become “the national center of political, cultural, and international exchange activities” as well as a technological innovation center, according to the document.

Tianjin will be a national research and development base for advanced manufacturing industry, a shipping hub for north China, a demonstration area for financial innovation, and an experimental area for further reform and opening up.

North China’s Hebei Province will be an important national base for trade and logistics, an experimental area for industrial transition and upgrading, a demonstration area of modern urbanization and coordinated development of urban and rural areas, and an ecological buffer zone.

The strategy will see the relocation of nonessential functions from the capital, which will help adjust the regional economic structure, nurture new growth sectors, and address problems of megacities such as overpopulation, pollution, traffic congestion, rocketing home prices, and scarcity of resources.

“The development of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is confronting many difficulties and problems, especially Beijing which is riddled with non-capital functions,” said the document.

The non-capital functions, including manufacturing, logistics, wholesale markets and partial functions of public service, account for a huge amount of Beijing’s popoulation.

The medium-term target of the strategy is, by 2020, to control the permanent population of Beijing within 23 million, and to relieve Beijing’s “urban illnesses.” Social development gaps between different areas would be reduced as a result of better delivery of public services in the region.

In the long term, the strategy aims to form an integrated region of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, with better economic structure, cleaner environment and improved public service ability.

The integrated region will become an important region with strong competitiveness and influence in the world, according to the document.

Priority will be given to traffic management, environmental protection, energy security and industrial upgrades. Public services will be improved and the area will be created into a better place for foreign businesses.

Innovation will be encouraged, and market forces will play a bigger role in utilizing the resources in the region.

As China’s economy slows, the program is designed to add momentum to growth.

Some major projects have already been revealed, including an 80-billion-yuan (US$12.5 billion) airport to be built in southern Beijing on the border with Hebei.

Local authorities were urged to lay out a roadmap and timetable for specific implementation of the plan, and came up with a string of support policies to ensure progress, it said.

The government and market should help encourage participation in the plan, the document said, highlighting transport, environment and industrial cooperation as major areas for the breakthrough.

China has long hoped to spur growth in the densely populated Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

Last month, Beijing said it would move some of its city administration out of the city center to the eastern suburbs of Tongzhou as part of the capital’s contribution to the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

The document urged faster progress on the construction of a new subsidiary administrative center, but warned of property price speculation in surrounding areas.

In the transport sector, China accelerated construction of the airport, and planned more rail links and highways.

The area has joined a concerted campaign for greener development by planting more trees and cutting pollution. In the first half of the year, average PM2.5 density in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the major pollution concern, dropped by 22 percent.

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