SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The smog-prone northern Chinese province of Hebei will create 30 “emerging industry bases” designed to rejuvenate its economy and ease its dependence on polluting sectors like steel and coal, its governor said on Thursday.
Hebei, responsible for about a quarter of China’s total steel output, is trying to find cleaner sources of economic growth and has promised to take action to ensure its cities are no longer among the country’s worst when it comes to smog.
It cut average concentrations of small, breathable particles known as PM2.5 by 14 percent in 2018, and will aim to cut emissions by another 5 percent this year, governor Xu Qin said in an annual work report published on the province's official government website (www.hebei.gov.cn).
Xu said in the work report that Hebei, which surrounds the capital Beijing, would accelerate construction of the “emerging industry bases” covering sectors such as big data, health, rehabilitation and “emergency equipment” manufacturing.
Hebei would aim to raise emerging industry revenues to 1.5 trillion yuan ($224 billion) by the end of the year, he said.
The province would invest around 700 billion yuan on 3,000 key projects related to infrastructure, environmental protection and new urban construction, he also said.
Hebei is aiming to keep economic growth at around 6.5 percent this year, after hitting around 6.6 percent in 2018, the governor said.
Five of China’s 10 smoggiest cities last year were in Hebei, including the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang and the country’s biggest steel-producing zone of Tangshan. The number was down from six in 2017.
Hebei’s average PM2.5 readings still stood at 56 micrograms per cubic meter last year, far higher than the national average of 39 micrograms and China’s official standard of 35 micrograms.
($1 = 6.7096 yuan)
Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Tom Hogue