China announces new area to coordinate development around Beijing

China announced Saturday it would establish the Xiongan New Area in Hebei Province aspart of measures to advance the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebeiregion.

This is another new area of national significance after the Shenzhen Special EconomicZone and the Shanghai Pudong New Area, according to a circular issued by theCommunist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council.

The move is a “major historic and strategic choice made by the CPC Central Committeewith Comrade Xi Jinping as the core,” said the circular, which described the decision as “astrategy crucial for a millennium to come.”

The new area, about 100 km southwest of downtown Beijing, will span three counties thatsit at the center of the triangular area formed by Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei’s provincialcapital Shijiazhuang.

The move will help phase out some non-capital functions from Beijing, explore a newmodel of optimized development in densely-populated areas, and restructure the urbanlayout in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, according to the circular.

The new area will cover around 100 square km initially and will be expanded to 200 square km in the mid-term and about 2,000 square km in the long term.

President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has saidpriority should be given to developing an area to pool non-capital functions that will beshifted from Beijing.

He has ordered a modern urban district to be built at a suitable location in Hebei, guidedby new development concepts.

During an inspection tour to Hebei on Feb. 23, Xi called for “world vision, internationalstandards, Chinese characteristics and high goals” in the planning and construction of thearea.

He urged efforts to build Xiongan into “a demonstration area for innovative development.”

The area should prioritize ecological protection, improve people’s well-being as well asprotect and carry forward Chinese traditional culture, he said.

The Xiongan New Area covers the counties of Xiongxian, Rongcheng and Anxin, and ishome to Baiyangdian, one of the largest freshwater wetlands in north China.

The area features geological advantages, convenient transportation, an excellentenvironment, ample resources and lots of room for development, according to the circular.

Specifying key tasks for the development of Xiongan, Xi said it should be built into agreen, modern and smart area with a beautiful environment, high-end industries andefficient transportation.

High-quality public services and facilities should be provided to create a new model forurban management, while reforms must be advanced to let the market play a decisive rolein resource allocation, he said.

The area should also be open to the outside world and become a new platform for furtheropening up and international cooperation, according to Xi.

Meanwhile, the circular cautioned that local authorities should avoid excessive urbanexpansion in the development of Xiongan, calling for a reasonable development pace withpatience and respect for the laws of city construction.

Saturday’s announcement was the latest step in China’s efforts to cure severe “urban ills,” such as traffic congestion and air pollution, in Beijing by curbing the capital’s populationgrowth and moving certain non-essential facilities, including manufacturing and logistics, to nearby regions.