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Hebei to ease pressure on Beijing population

2014-03-21 08:50 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

North China's Hebei province plans to build 90,000 low-rent apartments for people who work in Beijing in an effort to ease the population pressure in the capital and boost the local economy.

"The province has decided to build 90,000 apartments in nine cities and counties surrounding Beijing, such as Sanhe, Zhuozhou and Laishui county. During the first phase, 50,000 will be built," said Wang Fuqiang, an official from the Hebei Provincial Department of Industry and Information Technology.

Each apartment will be around 100 square meters in size, and the monthly rent is estimated to be 500 yuan ($80.30), said Wang, the People's Daily reported Thursday.

The measure is seen as being part of the nation's strategy to coordinate the development of Beijing, Hebei province and Tianjin. It will also curb explosive population growth in Beijing, the People's Daily said.

According to the Economy & Nation Weekly, nearly 5 million migrants, about 70 percent of the total migrant population, live in Beijing's rural areas, which are not well planned or managed.

Li Wenliang, professor with the University of International Relations, is optimistic about the plan.

"As migrant workers, they won't mind spending three to four hours on the road," Li said. "If the local government can offer more commuter services to make it easier to travel from Hebei to Beijing, the plan will work."

Some worried that more people would come to Beijing, and may also worsen the already congested traffic situation in the capital.

Li Danyang from Beihang University believes that the plan is not feasible, and is just a naïve idea from officials or experts.

"The plan reflects Hebei's desire to develop its economy," Li Danyang said, "But it is up for debate whether you can achieve that goal by building apartments and renting them out at low prices."

Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that the coordinated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei is an important national strategy, and should be pushed forward in a scientific and sustainable way.

A new railway line between Tianjin and Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei, will be completed in 2015, which will shorten the travel time to one and a half hours.

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