China’s northern region is set to see greater development as the two municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin continue to integrate their economies with the surrounding province of Hebei. One major feature of the coordinated plan is to promote the relocation of labor from major cities, including the Chinese capital, to more rural locations in Hebei province, while also creating new jobs.
Under the integrated framework, which was announced by the General Administration of Customs in 2014 and is more colloquially known as “Jing-Jin-Ji”, six major areas of focus have been outlined:
— Relocation: Transferring nonessential functions out of Beijing
— Industrial upgrading: Industrial coordination
— Transport integration: Twenty-four intercity railway lines to connect the entire Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region
— Environmental protection: Smog monitoring systems to be increased, use of forecasting technology, promotion of effective smog control
— Public service: Regional public service integration and social development
— People: New opportunities for talent communication and exchange
Phased targets have been set for 2017, 2020 and 2030, with several areas throughout Hebei province already seeing investment, fresh labor and growing local economies.
The county-level city of Gaobeidian is just south of Beijing, and is one area that is already reaping the benefits of the megacity plan.
One project listed as Gaobeidian Xinfadi has helped ease the pressure off Beijing by establishing a wholesale market for agricultural products. Services for the Xiongan New Area have also been established at the developing location, while a large logistics center will be built to provide services for transaction products. Contracts and cooperation agreements with banks have also been signed.
The Belt and Road Initiative has not been ignored. Company executives say a wholesale agricultural market will be centered at Xinfadi, alongside an “intelligent agriculture sector” — all keeping in mind the China-initiated development plan. Enterprises from 54 countries and regions, including Canada, Singapore and Poland, have set up businesses there, leading to the creation of 30,000 local jobs. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has also inked a contract with the development zone.
Further southeast is Dingxing county, where numerous food processing plants have been set up. Many are using automated technology and high-tech mechanisms for transferring products and food supplies.
One of China’s largest suppliers of sweets and jelly has been using a robotic system that sorts packaged goods throughout their warehouse. The process still requires manual labor for loading and unloading goods, ensuring technology does not curb job growth.
Soy sauce and vinegar processing plants and even a Chinese Baijiu (liquor) company are located there.
Officials there say that 150 companies have chosen to begin operations in the region. Forty-three of them come from outside the county, indicating that relocation from other areas throughout the region, or companies making the decision to invest in the north, is growing.