Authorities improve capital's functions as a political, cultural, communications and innovation hub
More than 95 percent of this year's tasks related to Beijing's program to upgrade its local living environment were completed by the end of September, according to a statement released by the Beijing municipal government.
The local government launched the program in January and it will last through 2020. Removing non-capital functions from the city and improving urban management, the move aims to improve people's living conditions and strengthen Beijing's core functions as a national capital.
The municipal government set 18 tasks for this year, including removing illegal buildings, regulating market order by banning businesses operating without licenses, shutting down polluting enterprises, and renovating old residential communities.
Like many other metropolises, Beijing has faced challenges such as overpopulation, limited land resources and illegal construction.
As a result, the capital city decided to launch an overall inspection of improper market behavior and illegal construction in rural and urban communities, and to remove those companies and markets that cannot serve the future development of Beijing as the political, cultural, international communications and innovation hub of China.
From January to September, about 620 manufacturing companies left Beijing, including those involved in the production of building materials, furniture and chemicals. The move helped to reduce pollution at its source.
At the same time, a total of 223 wholesale markets, especially those for selling clothes, small commodities, farm produce and building materials, moved to neighboring areas in Hebei province, to make room for companies or institutes that serve the city's four capital functions.
About 47 million square meters of illegally built buildings were torn down, a two-fold increase from last year. Phone calls from residents complaining about roadside stall businesses that disrupted traffic decreased by 25.5 percent in September, year-on-year.
The government tackled overcrowding, specifically too many tenants living in one small room, by shutting down more than 11,000 illegally rented apartments and about 1,200 underground accommodation spaces.
The move has greatly helped to improve public safety - especially the risk of fire - in the urban areas of Beijing.
Local universities, including Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing University of Chemical Technology and China University of Mining and Technology, have moved about 14,000 students - mostly new admissions - to their new campuses built in suburban areas of Beijing.
Most of the extra space resulting from the relocation of higher-learning institutions and vocational schools will be used to build kindergartens, and primary and middle schools to meet the increasing needs of the growing population of children and teenagers.
Renowned local hospitals, including Tiantan Hospital, are also working on building new facilities on the outskirts of Beijing.
The relocation of universities and hospitals aims to allocate more high-quality educational and medical resources to the rural areas of Beijing. Some of the universities and hospitals also plan to build branches in Hebei province and Tianjin, allowing the sharing of resources in neighboring regions.
A group of parks, including Datong Binghe Park and Majiawan Wetland Park, replaced the areas previously occupied by businesses irrelevant to Beijing's capital functions, which were removed.
More retail outlets have been built for the convenience of residents. About 1,100 outlets were built or renovated in the first nine months of the year, among which 384 sell fruits, vegetables, and other food stuffs.
The local government has invested in 52 projects for building chain operations for convenient service outlets.
In addition, the government increased its budget for the renovation of old residential communities. For instance, 66,000 meters of drainage pipes have been newly installed or renovated in the suburbs. The number of newly constructed parking areas in these regions reached about 13,000 square meters.
Ten old communities saw their environments improve thanks to newly installed elevators, renovated gas pipes and improved energy-saving and heat-preservation features.
In the North Maofang community in Haidian district, for example, an elderly people's care center was built. In Hujiayuan community in Dongcheng district, the walls and windows of residential buildings were reinforced. A project to improve electricity and water supply has kicked off in Huanweilou community in Shijingshan district.
As the next step, the city will continue to carry out more measures to improve urban management, aiming to build a first-level international and livable city.
Chen Meiling contributed to the story