Hebei sees gains from ties with major cities

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Top leaders in Hebei believe the province will benefit from economic coordination in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, while accommodating more people to ease pressure on infrastructure and services in the two municipalities.

"Coordination of the region is a national development strategy. Hebei will play whatever role is needed to increase that coordination," said Zhou Benshun, Party chief of Hebei province and a deputy to the National People's Congress.

Zhou said that instead of being selfish and only focusing on getting benefits, Hebei will be flexible, making and implementing plans that reflect the integration plan and increasing teamwork with the two cities.

Beijing and Tianjin municipalities are surrounded geographically by Hebei, which is less developed than those cities. But despite their different levels of development, being neighbors means they share longstanding links.

Zhou said Hebei is being called the biggest beneficiary of regional coordination.

"Beijing is overwhelmed and Hebei is preparing to take the overflow," Zhou said, adding that to ease Beijing's pressure, some industries and people are being moved out of the capital.

Hebei will be the first destination for these relocated people and businesses, which will bring more opportunities to the province.

"In the past, Beijing and Tianjin attracted resources and talent from Hebei. Now, that's reversing. Coordination will benefit residents of both Beijing and Hebei," Zhou said.

Zhang Qingwei, the governor of Hebei and an NPC deputy, said there are many ways to look at Tianjin-Hebei coordination.

"Tianjin was the capital of Hebei province for eight years and the two places have a lasting relationship," Zhang said. He lived in Tianjin for more than four years and considers himself a native of Tianjin.

"Tianjin and Hebei are both in the Bohai Bay Area. We're willing to cooperate with Tianjin, taking advantage of port facilities," Zhang said.

Hebei has three ports with total cargo handling capacity of more than 800 million metric tons, ranking third in the country.

According to Zhang, about 700,000 migrant workers from Hebei are working in Tianjin, accounting for 16 percent of that city's migrant worker population.

He also said that transportation links between Tianjin and Hebei are improving.

Zhang said the three provincial-level governments have established working mechanisms in air and water management and will work together to curb pollution.

There will also be more regional cooperation in the areas of education and science.

Various cities in Hebei have already worked with the Zhongguancun Science Park in Beijing, as well as universities in the capital.

Baoding, which is about 160 kilometers from Beijing, is one of these cities. In June last year, the city and the science park signed a cooperation pact.

Some companies in Zhongguancun will move to Baoding, with future cooperation details under discussion, according to Nie Ruiping, Party chief of Baoding, also an NPC deputy.

Nie said coordination plans for the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region represent an opportunity for Baoding.

Baoding has also established 34 industrial parks. "We built industrial parks that offer land and policy incentives to attract big companies from Beijing," said Nie.

Those moves will ease the capital's pressure on the one hand, while boosting Baoding's efforts to make its industrial base more environmentally friendly.

China Electronics Technology Group Corp, a State-owned enterprise with headquarters in Beijing, has established an electrical industrial park in Laishui, Baoding.

"Hebei has many universities with talented youth and new technologies. An innovation park for college students and professors will [allow some of them to] turn research into practice," said Li Xiaoting, vice-president of Hebei University in Baoding.

On Feb 26, President Xi Jinping called for strengthening economic coordination in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. Premier Li Keqiang made a similar statement on March 5 at the opening of the National People's Congress, the top legislature.

Plans for coordination were written into the government work report for the first time and brought to the State level.

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