Xiongan New Area in northern China's Hebei Province has made new progress in high-quality development in terms of ecology and construction, said local authorities.
Since a large afforestation project started in November 2017, about 11,333 hectares of forest with 12 million trees have been planted in Xiongan, said Li Hailin, an official with the ecological construction and investment company of the China Xiongan Group.
According to plan, Xiongan's forest coverage rate will reach 40 percent with a total of 57,333 hectares of forests in the future.
"The trees have increased, the sky has turned blue and the number of birds has also grown. We enjoy much cleaner air," said Gao Jianxun, a 50-year-old villager in Rongcheng County, one of the three counties under Xiongan.
Gao used to work in the city of Handan as a migrant worker. He is now a forest ranger and receives a monthly salary of 3,000 yuan (about 422.3 U.S. dollars).
Meanwhile, the water quality of Baiyangdian Lake in Xiongan has also been remarkably improved thanks to measures such as the diversion of water to the lake and closure of fishing farms.
Xiongan has started large-scale construction with 69 projects in key regional infrastructure facilities under the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration plan, major roads, afforestation, underground space, medicare and education, said Zhang Yuxin, deputy head of the managing committee of Xiongan New Area.
A total of 3,190 enterprises have registered to establish operations in Xiongan New Area. The first group of 26 high-end and high-tech enterprises has set up operations in the Xiongan citizen service center, 90 percent of them are from Beijing.
According to the Hebei pilot free trade zone (FTZ) inaugurated on Aug. 30, the Xiongan section focuses on industries including new-generation information technology, modern life science and biotechnology and high-end modern services.
The establishment of the FTZ will accelerate the construction and development of Xiongan New Area, said Song Tao, an official of the public service bureau of Xiongan New Area. The new area will continue to deepen reform and enhance services to create a business environment in line with international standards, he said.
Xiongan New Area, about 100 km southwest of Beijing, aims to become a modern city that is green, intelligent and livable with relatively strong competitiveness and human-environment harmony by 2035. It is a key move in pushing forward the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.