Concrete actions on Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration


Top politics and current affairs news for February 24, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "A whirlwind set to shake up China’s banks."

  • Travel card provides convenience for local commuters / China Daily
    “Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration” (京津冀一体化 jīng jīn jì yītǐhuà), or the collective development of China’s two largest northeastern cities together with the province that surrounds them, has been a goal of the central government for years. In 2016, the People’s Daily put “Jing-Jin-Ji” — as the planned supercity area of 130 million people is called in Chinese — on a year-end list of President Xi Jinping’s favorite phrases. However, with the exception of some road and railway construction, the plans have largely been rhetoric since being announced. Today, the China Daily notes that “a new travel card will enable passengers to use all metro systems throughout Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province by the end of this year.” This may become the first concrete step that allows residents of all three zones to feel part of a larger geo-economic zone. Also today, Xinhua published a report (in Chinese) that highlights President Xi’s emphasis of Jing-Jin-Ji’s important place in China’s most recent five-year development plan. See here for a 2015 New York Times story and video (paywalled) by Ian Johnson describing the ambitious plans.
  • China and North Korea reveal sudden, and deep, cracks in their friendship / NYT (paywall)
    The New York Times reports that the long-held “facade” of friendly China-North Korea relations is cracking, to the point that some Chinese analysts have said that recent weeks have marked the relationship’s “lowest point since the founding of the North as a separate country after World War II.” The separate events of China ceasing coal imports from the rogue nation and the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half brother, who was assumed to be under the protection of China, were already significant strains on relations between the two countries. Divisions were laid clear, however, when North Korea’s state media directed “some of the most damning insults in its playbook” toward China, such as that the country is “dancing to the tune of the U.S.” Soon after the unusual breach of media protocol between the two countries, the further revelation that North Korean assassins may have used a rare, outlawed chemical weapon in their mission has likely further dimmed Chinese leaders’ view of North Korea.