Smart delivery robots work at the full Internet of Things container terminal of Tianjin Port in north China's Tianjin, Feb. 21, 2023. As the "maritime gateway" to the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Tianjin Port has been ceaselessly advancing the construction of a smart port, boosting the coordinated development of the region with fresh impetus.(Photo: Xinhua)
The Chinese capital Beijing and neighboring regions unveiled a plan on Monday to promote coordinated pilot free trade zone (FTZ) development in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (Jing-Jin-Ji) area. Analysts said that the important move will inject new momentum into the region's development while expanding the country's opening-up for high-quality growth.
The plan proposes 16 measures to promote the area's coordinated development in FTZs, including advancing trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, boosting the development of financial innovation and promoting the coordinated development of the industrial sector, China Media Group reported on Monday.
It is the first of its kind in China, as there has been no such a plan in the Yangtze River Delta or Pearl River Delta regions, Zhang Gui, an expert from Hebei University of Technology based in North China's Tianjin, told the Global Times on Monday.
Zhang said that FTZs will play an important role in the new round of reform and opening-up in the Jing-Jin-Ji area, by exploring institutional innovation, enhancing policy connectivity and giving full play to their respective advantages.
Ye Tanglin, a city planning expert with the Capital University of Economics and Business, told the Global Times on Monday that the plan is a top-level design that aims to expand new fields of cooperation in the area to make it a new driving force for China's development.
Authorities in the area can work together to develop an influential logistics hub by strengthening industry and supply chains. In addition, they can strengthen tech cooperation and information sharing among companies in the three FTZs by exploring a cooperation mechanism for industrial transfers and investment promotion, according to Ye.
"As an important window for attracting foreign investment and boosting high-level opening-up, the coordinated development of FTZs in the area will better help China integrate with Northeast Asia and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to hedge external risks brought about by US-led unilateralism and protectionism," Zhang said.
The action plan is a latest measure to boost the coordinated development of the Jing-Jin-Ji area since the country initiated a key strategy to coordinate the development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province in early 2014.
In May, China announced plans to build world-class advanced factory clusters in the Jing-Jin-Ji region focusing on products including electric vehicles and biomedicine, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. In June, Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei signed an action plan to boost their coordinated development in terms of trade and investment.
A report on the coordinated pilot free trade zone (FTZ) development in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (Jing-Jin-Ji) area is released in Xiong'an New Area, North China's Hebei Province, on December 25, 2023. Photo: VCGThe coordinated industrial development of the region has achieved landmark results over the past nine years.
With registered capital of 78 million yuan ($10.93 million), Xinhuayuan Caofeidian Intelligent Parking Equipment Manufacturing Co was the first subsidiary of Beijing Energy Holding Co to be registered in the demonstration zone for the coordinated development of the Jing-Jin-Ji area. After its groundbreaking in early 2019, it took only 13 months for the facility to start operating, according to the company.
"Since our relocation to Caofeidian [in Hebei Province], the company's intelligent development has entered a new level," Li Yan, Party branch secretary of the company, told the Global Times, noting that only one worker is needed for automatic production on certain production lines.
Li said that Caofeidian's advantages in low costs, raw material supplies and maritime transport had reduced production costs and left more money for research and development.
The company has independently developed a next-generation, ultra-thin vehicle transfer robot that can carry vehicles weighing as much as 2.5 tons for parking, according to Li.
According to a report on the region's industrial development released during the first China International Supply Chain Expo in Beijing at the end of November, the economy of the three regions has maintained fast growth despite the fact that Beijing is transferring non-capital functions, and Tianjin and Hebei are reducing overcapacity.
The combined GDP of the three regions hit 10.03 trillion yuan in 2022, 1.7 times the amount of 2014.
The industrial structure in the region has shown continuous improvement, and innovation and entrepreneurship have made notable achievements. According to the report, 1,605 national-level "little giants," or leading innovative small and medium enterprises (SMEs), have been nurtured in the area since 2018, while the number of innovative SMEs has reached approximately 8,000.
"With more policies to boost the area's coordinated development, we are confident that the development of the Jing-Jin-Ji area can compete with famous regional clusters such as San Francisco Bay Area," Ye said, noting that there are great opportunities to be explored in the coordinated development of high-end manufacturing and industrial parks, among other sectors.
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