Satellite city Baoding rolls out welcome mat to 'guests from Beijing'

Capital's 'unwanted' hospitals, wholesale markets and high-tech firms are welcome, but not its big polluters, says mayor

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 1:55pm
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 2:37pm

Baoding will set aside 115,000 hectares of development sites to absorb branches of Beijing-based institutes and companies to ease the burden of the overcrowded capital, the city’s mayor told local media.

The city, located 140 kilometres from the capital in Hebei province, will develop 34 new districts to host their “guests from Beijing”, Baoding mayor Ma Yufeng told the Beijing Times on Monday.

According to planning directives issued by Hebei’s provincial government and party committee last week, Baoding and Langfang will become satellite cities of the capital in the development of the Jing-Jin-Ji region (Chinese shorthand for Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei).

“Some of Beijing’s leading hospitals have already moved some of their functions to Baoding,” Ma told the paper. “The construction of Chinese PLA General Hospital’s base in Zhuozhou [a county-level city administered by Baoding] started in December.”

Baoding lies on the Beijing-Shijiazhuang High Speed Railway that opened in 2012, putting it within 40 minutes’ travel time from Beijing, Ma added.

Baoding is developing three districts around high-speed rail stations along the line into technology hubs to host universities and high-tech firms.

Ma has also suggested that the exhibition centres and wholesale markets that attract large numbers of customers and traffic be relocated to Baoding.

Baoding and Langfang are competing to attract the massive wholesale market located next to Beijing Zoo. Baigou [a county in the north of Baoding] had already finished a venue with 5 million square metres of floor space, Ma said, that would also waive rents for five years for merchants relocated from the capital.

However, Ma is adamant that that big polluting industries will not be welcome in Baoding.

Covering an area of 2.2 million hectares and home to more than 10 million people, Baoding was named the capital of Hebei at the founding of People’s Republic of China. It lost the title in 1958 to the more industrialised Tianjin, and then to Shijiazhuang.

Mainland financial magazine Caijing reported earlier this month that Baoding would be designated a “deputy” seat of power to Beijing. Both the National Development and Reform Commission and Beijing’s executive deputy mayor denied it had been given the designation.