The detailed plan for the core area of Beijing for the 2018-35 period, which was published on Aug 30 after it was approved by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, highlights the Chinese capital's role as the nation's political center.
Approving the plan, the State Council said the core area is where Beijing's functions as the nation's political, cultural and international exchange center are mostly located, and it is also a key area for the preservation of historical sites.
Yang Baojun, chief economist at the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said Beijing is a megacity with a population of more than 20 million and an annual GDP in excess of 3.5 trillion yuan ($510 billion) in 2019.
"With China getting closer to the center of the world's stage, many functions of the capital should be completed and strengthened," he was quoted as saying by Beijing Daily on Aug 30.
"In order to enhance the capital's political role in the core area, Beijing has set up a sub-city center in Tongzhou district where municipal government organs have relocated. The sub-city center will also take on more roles in the economic field in order to ensure the core area's political role," Yang said.
The functional reorganization of the core area should be steadily advanced to create more space to support central government activities, according to the statement.
The core area, including Dongcheng and Xicheng districts, covers 92.5 square km.
In the plan, the population in the core area will be capped at 1.7 million by 2035. The ratio of public areas will be raised from the current 34.3 percent to 38.4 percent in 2035, the plan said.
More high-quality resources in education, nursing homes, and health services will be deployed outside the core areas, to provide more balanced services to residents, the plan said.
The central authorities also demanded strengthened protection of the city's cultural and historical heritage in the core area.
The plan gives priority to the protection of the city's cultural heritage, including archaeological sites, historic streets, and parks, ancient alleyways, historic revolutionary sites, and waterways.
Zhang Jie, a professor at the School of Architecture of Tsinghua University, said the plan contains advanced, scientific and innovative concepts to protect old areas of the city.
"Protection of old areas of the city in the core area is in the broader context of the integrated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and construction of the Xiong'an New Area, and this provides an unprecedented opportunity."
Shi Xiaodong, head of the Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning and Design, said the plan includes content on the further development of the city's public health system, which has shown its importance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We realize that there are many ways to improve the megacity's management of its public health system. The sector will ensure people's health and safety, which will also make the city stronger."
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