BEIJING (AP) — China announced Saturday that it is going to establish a special economic area in a province neighboring Beijing as part of a plan to integrate the capital with its surrounding areas.
The government says the Xiongan New Area in Hebei province will have national significance like the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, China's first free-market economic zone set up in 1980 as the country was beginning economic reforms, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The creation of the new area is a "major historic and strategic choice," Xinhua said, citing a circular issued by the Communist Party's central committee and China's Cabinet.
The Xiongan New Area will eventually cover 2,000 square kilometers (772 square miles) and be located about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from downtown Beijing.
Since 2014, the government has planned to jointly develop Beijing, the port city of Tianjin and Hebei province to boost regional and economic development in the northern region, and bridge the economic disparity between the capital and the industrial and rural areas surrounding it.