A train enters Xiong'an Railway Station, Hebei province, on Dec 27 as the Beijing-Xiong'an Intercity Railway is put to use. [Photo/China Daily] Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region shows new strength amid Xiong'an's 4th anniversary When Li Jianhe left his hometown, the county of Rongcheng in Hebei province, for the megacity of Beijing in 1996, he was determined he would never go back. To Li, as a college student at the age of 17, the small county－which is about two hours' drive from Beijing－represented backwardness and a lack of opportunity for him, in sharp contrast with the bustling capital. However, two decades later, he made up his mind to leave Beijing and relocate to his hometown immediately after China announced the development of a new area in Hebei－the Xiong'an New Area, which spans three counties including Rongcheng－on April 1, 2017. The national significance of the Xiong'an New Area is on a par with the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and the Shanghai Pudong New Area. Li's company, Jingxiong Group, a government affairs service provider, was among the first companies to relocate from Beijing to Xiong'an two weeks after the new area was set up. "I made the decision after I derived confidence from the determined posture of President Xi Jinping to advance the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region," said Li, who is founder and president of the company. With Xiong'an set to mark its fourth anniversary on Thursday, a new intercity train has been launched between the new area and Beijing, and tens of thousands of construction workers are working on relocation programs, schools and a hospital. A future city is starting to take shape. The development of Xiong'an is the landmark plan to coordinate the development of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, a strategy mapped out and carried forward by Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. "It is no exaggeration to say that General Secretary Xi is the chief planner for the integrated development between Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei," said Zhang Jie, a professor of economics and deputy dean at Renmin University of China's Beijing Academy of Development and Strategy. The integrated development of the three neighboring-level areas was elevated to a national strategy in 2014 during a symposium chaired by Xi in Beijing. While chairing a meeting of the Central Leading Group for Finance and Economic Affairs in 2015, Xi underscored that the goal of promoting the coordinated development of the three areas is intended to relieve Beijing of functions nonessential to its role as the capital, adjust economic and spatial structures, promote the coordinated growth of the region, and form a new engine of development. In 2017, Xi made his first inspection trip to Xiong'an, which is at the center of the triangular area formed by Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei's capital, Shijiazhuang, and is designated to undertake functions no longer suitable to the capital. The development of Xiong'an will be crucial for the next millennium, and the new area must be based on a new concept of planning and development and fully carry out the new development philosophy, he said in 2019 during his second trip to the area. Xi underlined the importance of staying patient and maintaining the strategic orientation, saying that the planning and building of the new area must proceed with high quality and standards. He also called for steps to integrate market elements including people, logistics and information and to promote the integrated development of information, strengthen the coordinated treatment programs for ecological and environmental protection, and enable the sharing of basic public services.