Hebei plans economic zone around Beijing
( chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-12-01

Thirteen municipalities and counties in Hebei province will adopt Beijing’s fixed phone code 010, and also will build links to the capital city’s subway system as part of a plan to build an economic zone reaching Beijing.

Hebei wants to share responsibilities with Beijing for residents, housing, senior citizen care, and traffic and environmental burdens.

“The Bohai Rim region will emerge as a growth pillar of China’s economy in thenext half-century,” Hebei Vice-Governor Zhao Yong said. “An economic circle around the capital can make full use of the capital’s advantages and influence, and help ease Beijing’s housing and services pressures.”

Economic circles have are playing an increasingly important role in regional development at locations around the world. For example, 67 percent of South Korea’s total economy is concentrated in the Seoul Economic Circle.

“The move is well justified,” Zhao said. “Beijing is confronting many problems like over-population, traffic jams and environmental protection. It’s our obligation to serve the capital, and we always do.”

Zhao said Beijing was experiencing a shift in development from an investment-absorbing “siphon effect” to a “spillover effect”, and Hebei is ready to take the “spillover” of such a saturated economy.

Hebei will build an industry cluster with new entertainment venues and advertise its clearer air and more relaxed lifestyle, he said.

Zhao joined other Hebei and Beijing government officials for a discussion about the planned zone on Nov 10, and agreed to achieve the integration of Beijing and surrounding areas in two to three years.

The one-city target means building a regional cooperation and coordination mechanism beyond the administrative division barriers. A special task force will be organized, and its office will be located in Yanjiao county, 30 kilometers north of Tian’anmen Square in Beijing, to facilitate bi-lateral communications .

According to an agreement between the Hebei government and China Banking Regulatory Commission, all back-office services of Beijing’s foreign-invested banks will be moved to Langfang, a one-hour drive from Beijing.

By Guo Changdong and Zhang Nan