Chinese President Xi Jinping(C) inspects the Xiongan New Area scheme in Anxin County of Baoding City, north China's Hebei Province, Feb 23, 2017. Xiongan New Area, an economic zone about 100 kilometers south of Beijing, will span Xiongxian, Rongcheng and Anxin counties in Hebei Province, covering 2,000 square kilometers in the long term with a population of 2 to 2.5 million. (Xinhua/Lan Hongguang)
Plans for Xiongan New Area, an economic zone about 100 kilometers south of Beijing, are becoming more clear.
The zone will span Xiongxian, Rongcheng and Anxin counties in Hebei Province, covering 2,000 square kilometers in the long term with a population of 2 to 2.5 million.
The surprise announcement to set up the new area on April 1 actually represented the results of years of research and rumination by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, and is a major strategic decision which will open a new era of development in the region.
Drawing an analogy to legendary Chinese flood control hero Dayu, who contained flooding by means of dredging rather than obstruction, President Xi Jinping said, "The capital's core functions should be preserved and strengthened, and some inappropriate functions adjusted and weakened."
"Some functions should be transferred to Hebei and Tianjin," said Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee.
Addressing a central economic meeting at the end of 2014, Xi said that transferring Beijing's non-capital functions, lowering its population density and promoting economic and social development commensurate with its population and resources must be at the core of coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.
During CPC meetings in April 2015, Xi suggested investigating the possibility of a new city in Hebei, built according to new development concepts.
On March 24, 2016, Xi heard a report on the creation of Beijing's "subsidiary center" and another area where non-capital functions would be shifted from Beijing. The subsidiary center is to be located in the eastern suburb of Tongzhou while the other area will be Xiongan.
Xi stressed that Beijing is at an historic juncture. Tongzhou and Xiongan will form two "wings" for Beijing and create new growth engines for Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei.
On May 27, 2016, Xiongan New Area appeared for the first time in a report reviewed at a Political Bureau meeting of the CPC Central Committee.
Calling it a "major historic and strategic decision" that would be "crucial for the millennium to come," Xi said the subsidiary center of Beijing and Xiongan New Area should withstand the test of history, and be the legacy of this generation of CPC members.
People will see that Xiongan New Area, Pudong New Area in Shanghai and Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in Guangdong form a ladder from north to south across the map of China to act as the testbeds for the country's reform and opening up.
These areas are expected to work together to balance the development of China and change the country's make-up which features a strong economy in the south and weaker economic development in the north.