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China’s Jing-Jin-Ji regional economic strategy: 2016 progress update

Having entered its second year as an official economic development programme, the “Beijing- Tianjin- Hebei Co-ordinated Development” now boasts project and policy initiatives that demonstrate genuine progress and deepened integration. ​​The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Co-ordinated Development (Jing-Jin-Ji) was launched in what was an especially trying year for China’s economic policymakers. A changed environment— characterised by economic deceleration, the aftermath of bungled stock and currency market interventions—has heightened expectations for new initiatives like Jing-Jin-Ji to succeed. 

In many respects, developments with Jing-Jin-Ji in 2016 did not disappoint. Beijing launched additional PPP-funded projects and witnessed expansion with high-tech sectors and in cultural industries. Growth with the capital city’s consumer sectors and service industries particularly impresses. The region’s second major city, Tianjin, while continuing to struggle with external trade, is still succeeding with efforts to ramp up in services, notably for the areas of finance, technology, and transportation. As the more mature anchor economies of Jing-Jin-Ji, Beijing and Tianjin’s rebalancing towards advanced industries, services and consumption is encouraging. 

​Hebei’s GRP growth in 2016 is keeping slightly below the estimated national annual GDP growth rate. The provincial government remains committed to reducing output in steel and other resource-consuming industries that are inefficient and suffer from overcapacity. The Beijing municipal government has delivered on promises to direct more advanced industries to Hebei as demonstrated by jointly developed biopharmaceutical industrial parks in the province. Yet Hebei is in danger of fostering new levels of overcapacity in some otherwise promising sectors, such as Big Data. The provincial government will need to better co-ordinate its policies in this regard it aims to develop areas of the economy that are not only high-tech but also highly sustainable.

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