China plans for 'Jing-Jin-Ji' world-class industrial cluster

FILE PHOTO: Women stand near a fence by a river separating Beijing and its neighbouring Hebei province, in Beijing

BEIJING (Reuters) - China plans to build world-class advanced factory clusters in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region focused on products such as electric vehicles and robots, it said on Tuesday, as the country seeks to confirm its global competitiveness.

As tensions have mounted with the United States, Chinese leaders have pledged to build a modern industrial system and achieve technological breakthroughs to win the "strategic initiative".

Over the last decade, China has sought to integrate the economies of the cities of Beijing and Tianjin and the surrounding Hebei province, known as Jing-Jin-Ji, which could also reduce income gaps in the region and curb pollution.

"Faced with new situations, new tasks, and new requirements, as an important industrial development highland in China, the task of promoting coordinated industrial development in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei is even more urgent," the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement on Tuesday.

It said the region's development will focus on sectors such as integrated circuits, network security and power equipment and biopharmaceutical industry.

It will also develop industries in new energy vehicles, intelligent connected vehicles, biomedicine, hydrogen energy, robots, as well as research on artificial intelligence, life sciences, and aerospace technology, the ministry said.

In 2017, President Xi Jinping announced plans to build the Xiongan New Area as part of a state-driven campaign to integrate the economy of the Jing-Jin-Ji region and ease congestion and pollution pressures in the Chinese capital.

Earlier this month, Xi, during a high-profile visit to Xiongan - about 100 km (60 miles) southwest of the capital - pledged to move more state firms and other institutions from Beijing to the flagship city.

Beijing has already moved some its universities, government departments and industrial firms to Xiongan, which is tasked with taking on some of Beijing's "non-capital" functions.

(Reporting by Kevin Yao; editing by Barbara Lewis)