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Beijing initiates integration with Tianjin and Hebei

Officials from Beijing, Hebei province and Tianjin municipality are working on a joint development plan with the aim of improving the region's overall competitiveness, Beijing Morning Post reported Tuesday, citing a senior Beijing municipal planning official.

According to the plan, Beijing will relocate less important industries and divert population to neighboring cities in Hebei, to ease population pressure in the capital and beef up the competitiveness of its surrounding areas, Huang Yan, Director of Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning, revealed on a Radio Beijing program on Monday.

Those industries will include "those that can't contribute to the capital's position as the country's political, international communication and technological innovation center", according to Huang.

"We divided Beijing and Tianjin municipalities, and cities in Hebei province into three types, according to their population capacity -- municipalities, big cities and urban nodes, which means smaller cities linking major cities. The plan aims to optimize and balance the functions of these cities in different scales, making their functions complementary to each other," Huang said.

The new plan is expected to ease the air, water and transportation problems in the mega cities of Beijing and Tianjin, whose permanent resident population reached 21.14 million and 14.72 million respectively in 2013.

"In the recent decade, Beijing's population, by residency registration, or hukou, increased less than 600,000 every year on average, which piled a mounting pressure on the environment, public services and infrastructures." Huang said.

The old plan can no longer keep Beijing's escalating urban problems under control, and urban planning officials are doing extensive research for an improved blueprint, added her.

In 2005, Beijing adopted a ten-year-plan for its municipal development, which will end in 2014.

The Huang proposed ways to attract people to settle down in surrounding cities, including diverting various resources, such as medical agencies, to the areas, and developing public transport including high speed railways and inter-city railways.

On March 19, one of China's most circulated economic magazines, Caijing Magazine, reported that the Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei regions had reached an agreement to appoint Hebei's Baoding city as the country's political sub-capital. Several government officials later denied the report the same day, but it is widely viewed as a signal for further stepped-up Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin integration.

On Feb 27, President Xi Jinping, head of the leading group for overall reform, called for integrated and coordinated development of Beijing Tianjin and Hebei. He did so during a symposium after listening to work reports delivered by officials from Beijing and the two neighboring provincial areas.

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