An aerial view of Baiyangdian Lake in Xiongan New Area, Hebei province. [Photo by Liu Dongyao/For China Daily]
Hebei province's Xiongan New Area, a new economic engine near Beijing, has entered the next stage of design and construction, a top provincial official said on Tuesday.
The construction of 67 key projects－including a high-speed railway and an expressway linking Beijing and Xiongan－are underway, Hebei Governor Xu Qin said in an annual government work report.
Eleven supporting policies have been rolled out in finance, investment approval and other areas, said Xu, who delivered the report at the opening of the annual session of the Hebei Provincial People's Congress, the local legislative body.
The new area－about 100 kilometers southwest of Beijing－was established in 2017 as a major step in the almost six-year coordinated development effort of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei.
The area's national significance is similar to the economic engines of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and Shanghai Pudong New Area, according to an official outline about Xiongan's development.
"We are building Xiongan to be a model of high-quality development in the new era, with world vision, international standards, Chinese characteristics and high goals," he said.
This year, designs for beautiful villages, buildings and landscapes will be made, he said.
The transferring of "noncapital" functions, including colleges and research institutions, medical institutes, enterprise headquarters, financial institutions and administrative organs, has also started.
China Electronics Technology Group Co, a State-owned enterprise in electronic information, and a smart lab project conducted by Tsinghua University have set up branches in Xiongan, Xu said.
Further, an innovation institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a national medical center in Xiongan will be established this year, Xu said.
To support the transferred functions, the area will roll out policies in public services, including residence registration, education, medical treatment and housing, he said.
The water quality of Baiyangdian Lake, a wetland in the area seen as a key to its environment, has been improved and the water level raised through replenishment, he said.
More than 13,000 hectares of land were planted with trees last year to improve the environment, and another 6,700 hectares will be planted this year, he added.
"It's a good thing for us locals that everything is changing to a better state, especially the environment of Baiyangdian," said Yang Bingjun, 54, a deputy to the Hebei Provincial People's Congress from Anxin county in Xiongan who grew up at Zhainan village bordering the lake.
As a master craftsman of reed paintings, a provincial-level intangible cultural heritage, Yang plans to use his works as a medium to spread local traditional culture.
He used to make mats with reeds growing in Baiyangdian and is now carrying out research on reed paintings.
Wang Dongfeng, secretary of the Communist Party of China Hebei Provincial Committee, made an inspection visit to Xiongan on the first day of the year, stressing construction projects in the area should be done with high standards, high quality and high efficiency.
"We should strive for perfection on each process and lay a solid foundation for the development of Xiongan," Wang said.