Published: 10:02, May 23, 2024
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Hebei deepens opening-up to drive high-quality development
By Chen Meiling in Beijing and Zhang Yu in Shijiazhuang
A tourism site in Baoding, Hebei province. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Hebei province is deepening opening-up by promoting foreign trade and outbound investment, as well as by more deeply participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, on its path to high-quality development, according to Ni Yuefeng, secretary of the Hebei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China.

The province has a coastline stretching 487 kilometers, with the three coastal cities — Qinhuangdao, Tangshan and Cangzhou — serving as hubs of the Circum-Bohai Sea region linking Northeast Asia.

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Hebei has unique geographical advantages and convenient maritime transportation, with favorable conditions for developing an outward-oriented economy.

The cargo throughput of Tangshan Port exceeded 800 million metric tons for the first time in 2023 and exceeded 200 million tons in the first quarter of this year, ranking second in the world.

Hebei has added 10 new domestic container trade routes and four foreign trade routes since last year, opening routes to the Russian Far East, Vietnam and Thailand.

"We will solidly promote the transformation and upgrading of ports and the integration of resources, as well as expand domestic and international trade routes," Ni said.

"In addition, based on platforms such as development zones, free trade zones and comprehensive bonded zones, we've taken measures to make customs clearance quicker and more convenient."

Hebei's imports and exports increased 7.4 percent last year and 15 percent in the first quarter of this year. Exports of new energy vehicles, lithium batteries and photovoltaic products increased rapidly.

Major cooperative projects have been carried out between Hebei and regions participating in the BRI.

Hebei Iron and Steel Group Co, one of the world's largest steel-makers, purchased Smederevo Steel Plant in Serbia in 2016, turning it from a loss-making company to a profitable one, and securing more than 5,000 jobs.

This year, Wu'an Xinfeng Circular Economy Industrial Investment Development Co signed a contract for a 2-million-ton hot-rolled coil project in Egypt.

In April, the China-Europe freight train that departed from Shijiazhuang arrived in Belgrade, Serbia, establishing a major land logistics channel.

Last year, Hebei reached agreements for investments totaling $480 million with countries involved in the BRI, accounting for 38.1 percent of the province's total outbound investment.

"In the future, we will further comprehensively deepen reforms, promote high-level opening-up, accelerate the construction of a strong economy and a beautiful Hebei, and strive to compose a chapter in the modernization of China with a Hebei perspective," Ni said.

Under the country's move to promote the integrated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Xiong'an New Area in Hebei is a major recipient of noncapital functions from Beijing.

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"Xiong'an New Area has entered a phase of large-scale construction and is undertaking noncapital functions from Beijing," Ni said. "We will further improve relocation policies, optimize institutional mechanisms, and extensively attract domestic and foreign participants and capital to participate in its construction and development, striving to build it into a high-level modern city."

As of now, the number of institutions transferred from Beijing and Tianjin to Hebei exceeds 40,000.Since last year, there has been a historic breakthrough in the introduction of second- and third-tier subsidiaries of State-owned enterprises from Beijing, driving both industry and employment growth, Ni said.

The province also established platforms for the matching of technology, industry and finance, to accelerate incubation of technological achievements and their application in the market, he added.

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