China sets up $1.5 bln fund to promote Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration

BEIJING, Sept 30 (Reuters) - A new 10 billion yuan (1.5 billion dollar) government-backed fund was set up on Saturday to promote the development and integration of the region around China’s capital, state media Xinhua said.

The fund will promote the government’s plan to integrate the economies of the cities of Beijing and Tianjin with the surrounding Hebei province.

The plan, dubbed Jing-Jin-Ji, was initiated in 2013 and was meant to break down “fortress economies” in the region that were blamed for widening income disparities and causing a “race to the bottom” on environmental law enforcement.

The fund will also push forward construction of the Xiongan New Area, Xinhua said. Xiongan is a new development in Hebei province that was announced on April 1 and is a key project of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The fund announced on Saturday was set up by the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and includes involvement from the China Development Bank and the regional governments of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei.

China Merchants Group, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Tsinghua University are also participating, Xinhua said.

Beijing, home to 22 million people, is trying to curb population growth and relocate industries and other “non-capital functions” to Hebei as part of efforts to curb pollution and congestion. ($1 = 6.6533 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Elias Glenn; Editing by Stephen Powell)