Hebei develops together with the metropolises it embraces
By Wang Jun  ·  2022-08-19  ·   Source: NO.34 AUGUST 25, 2022
A cruise ship sails along the Hebei section of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the world's longest artificial waterway and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on June 24 (XINHUA)

Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration. Xiongan New Area. The Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. These are some of the highlights in the development of Hebei, the province that surrounds Beijing and Tianjin municipalities, over the past decade.

Hebei has become economically stronger and more environmentally sustainable, Ni Yuefeng, Secretary of the Hebei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, said at a press conference on August 9.


At a meeting he chaired on February 26, 2014, President Xi Jinping underlined the importance of the coordinated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei as a major national strategy. The idea is for the region to further integrate as Beijing, which has long suffered from overcrowding, devolves functions nonessential to its role as the national capital to its neighboring cities.

Ni said Hebei has been active in taking on these functions and has accelerated its development while synergizing with and serving Beijing and Tianjin through a number of transportation, environmental protection and industrial projects. The Beijing-Zhangjiakou and Beijing-Xiongan high-speed railways have been completed, and Hebei has received nearly 40,000 enterprises and institutions that have relocated from Beijing and Tianjin.

Figures from the press conference show that electronic information, biomedicine and other industrial projects relocated from Beijing and Tianjin have brought a total investment of 516.3 billion yuan ($76.6 billion).

On April 1, 2017, the Central Government announced a plan to establish Xiongan New Area to take over some of Beijing's nonessential functions. Approximately 100 km southwest of downtown Beijing, Xiongan aims to become a green, intelligent and livable city with quality public services and infrastructure. 

Ni said 430 billion yuan ($63.8 billion) has been invested in Xiongan and, in this year alone, construction has begun on 59 new projects, with a total investment of 60 billion yuan ($8.9 billion). To date, 110 institutions and major state-owned enterprises have registered in the area.

The high-quality and efficient construction, event operation and logistical service of the Zhangjiakou Competition Zone in Hebei contributed to the success of the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Zhangjiakou, a popular ski destination 180 km northwest of downtown Beijing, hosted skiing and biathlon events of Beijing 2022. Three newly built venues—the National Biathlon Center, the National Cross-Country Skiing Center and the National Ski Jumping Center—have since become city landmarks.

"In keeping with the concept that green is gold, Hebei continues to fight air, water and soil pollution," Ni said.

From 2013 to 2021, the number of days with good air quality in Hebei increased from 149 to 269 per year, while the number of days with heavy air pollution reduced from 73 to nine. During the same period, the annual average density of PM2.5, inhalable particles with diameters of 2.5 microns or less, fell from 104 to 38.8 micrograms per cubic meter of air. All the province's polluted surface water has now been cleaned.

Since 2012, the province has reduced groundwater overexploitation by 5.23 billion cubic meters, restored 26,667 hectares of mining areas and 180,000 hectares of grassland, and planted 4.64 million hectares of forests.

"We are promoting measures to achieve carbon peaking and neutrality goals, tightening control of both total energy consumption and energy intensity, advancing energy conservation in key industries such as steel and thermal power, and redoubling our efforts to develop green energy including wind, photovoltaic and hydrogen power. From 2012 to 2021, the energy consumption per unit of GDP in Hebei decreased 43 percent," Wang Zhengpu, Governor of Hebei, said at the press conference.

Sustainable growth 

According to Ni, Hebei has overfulfilled the national targets for cutting overcapacity in six industries, including steel, coal, cement, plate glass, coke and thermal power. The

annual production capacity of steel has been reduced from 320 million tons at its peak to less than 200 million tons. Growth of strategic emerging and modern service industries has accelerated, with service industries now contributing 61.1 percent of the province's GDP growth.

Hebei's GDP increased from 2.3 trillion yuan ($341.25 billion) in 2012 to more than 4 trillion yuan ($593.47 billion) in 2021, and the province's general budget revenue rose from 200 billion yuan ($29.67 billion) to more than 410 billion yuan ($60.83 billion).

"In the face of complex situations and arduous tasks, Hebei has effectively coordinated pandemic control and economic development, and introduced a number of policies to ensure stable investment and consumption," Ni said.

In the first half of this year, the provincial GDP grew 3.4 percent year on year, and the value-added output of major industrial enterprises, fixed assets investment and retail sales of consumer goods rose 5.2 percent, 8.4 percent and 3 percent, respectively. During the same period, China's economy improved 2.5 percent from a year earlier, with the value-added output of major industrial enterprises and fixed assets investment gaining 3.4 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively, and the retail sales of consumer goods falling 0.7 of a percentage point. "Major economic indicators in Hebei outperform the national average, indicating a sound momentum of high-quality development," Ni added.

Ni said Hebei made every effort to win the battle against poverty. By 2020, all the 2.32 million poor people in the province had shaken off their state of destitution, and all its 7,746 villages and 62 counties on the national list of impoverished areas had overcome poverty.

With the mindset that casting off poverty is not the finish line, but the starting point of a new life and new endeavors, Hebei built on its achievements in poverty alleviation to promote rural revitalization, Ni added.

The per-capita disposable income of rural residents in Hebei increased from 8,081 yuan ($1,198) in 2012 to 18,179 yuan ($2,697) in 2021, up 1.2 times. The total grain output of the province has stood at above 35 billion kg for nine years in a row. This year, Hebei had a bumper harvest of summer grain again, with the total output reaching 14.87 billion kg, contributing to the country's food security.

Wang said since 2012, the province has renovated 1.43 million buildings in shanty towns, 10,634 deteriorating neighborhoods in cities and 758,000 rural dilapidated houses. Through these projects, the housing conditions of urban and rural residents have improved.

Also, as part of a national campaign known as the Toilet Revolution, a total of 6.31 million rural toilets, mostly open-pit latrines whose poor sanitation is linked to the transmission of diseases, have been renovated, and more than 80 percent of rural households have access to well-managed sanitary toilets, which are enclosed and ventilated. Since 2018, the province has built 63 waste incineration power plants, with the urban and rural domestic waste incineration rate reaching 90 percent.

(Print Edition Title: Coordination Matters) 

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson 

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