“Have the officials ever considered opinions and feelings of people in Hebei?”
“At first, immigrants were forced to leave. And now, seniors are paid to move. Beijing is like a juice extractor.”
These are two typical comments (in Chinese) on the social media platform Weibo in response to news (in Chinese) that Beijing will give cash rewards to elderly people who leave the capital and move to neighboring areas, as part of an effort to ease population pressure on the city.
According to a pilot program that aims to increase collaborative development of senior care in Beijing, the nearby city of Tianjin, and the surrounding areas of Hebei Province, the elderly in Beijing who choose to move to senior care facilities in Tianjin and Hebei can receive subsidies. Those who are able to take care of themselves can get a monthly subsidy of 300 to 500 yuan ($45–$75). Those in need of nursing care can get up to 1,000 yuan ($150) a month. All pensioners who move are also eligible for a transportation allowance of 100 yuan ($15) per month.
The incentive policy is part of the bigger plan to integrate the medical systems of the cities of Beijing and Tianjin with the surrounding Hebei Province. In the past three years, Beijing has sent more than 1,000 doctors to Hebei, who have seen around 70,000 patients. Meanwhile, over 200 hospitals across the three areas have built up a cooperative network to spread the burden of treatment and patient care.
However, though the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration project, known as Jing-Jin-Ji integration (京津冀一体化 jīngjīnjì yītǐhuà), is promoted as a coordinated effort to boost the economies of all of the three regions, residents in Tianjin and Hebei often feel taken advantage of by their better-off peers in Beijing. For example, Beijing has relocated many polluting industries to Hebei in the past few years, making the province that has seven of China’s 10 smoggiest cities even more polluted.
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