View the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region from the angle of satellite

Report on Remote Sensing Monitoring of China's Sustainable Development (2016) was released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) recently. It used remote sensing technology to get spatial information of large regions and visualized the development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region as a collaborative innovation community at the current phase.

The most evident change can be seen in traffic with the help of remote sensing satellite. The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration made its first breakthrough in traffic, connected all the dead end highways in China, and eliminated all the traffic bottlenecks in national and provincial arteries. The satellite remote sensing imagery shows that all the dead end along Beijing-Taipei, Beijing-Qinhuangdao, and Beijing-Kunming expressways have been connected and come into use. The long-standing problem of dead end highways resulted from administrative division and water control in Kowloon is now solved under the synergetic development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, indicating that coordination instead of division and integration instead of isolation have gradually become the consensus on development. Both the collaborative capacity and the integration mechanism between Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei are improving continuously.

Environmental improvement is also remarkable. According to the remote sensing imagery, the vegetation coverage in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is turning better in whole and great achievement has been achieved in returning farm to forests and grassland. In the image, the northwest of Beijing is surrounded by a large area of green, representing that the vegetation coverage has been improved evidently in recent years. Environment going first is in line with the strategic orientation of the synergetic development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area. When putting forward the synergetic development of this area, President Xi Jinping proposed to "expand environment capacity and ecospace and strengthen cooperation in ecological environment protection". At present, initial success has been achieved in environmental protection, indicating that collaborative governance and regional integration are effective in solving environmental pollution and providing enlightenment for ecological development in other places.

Satellite remote sensing technology can zoom in the details of a region and discover variation in depth. The image shows that markets at the Great Red Gate, zoo, and some other places in Beijing have been closed already and parts of the merchants have been cleared out. The deposit volume of logistics cargo in this region decreased remarkably together with road vehicles with less influence on neighboring arteries. These changes directly reflect progress in relieving Beijing of non-capital functions. "Adjusting and optimizing city layout and spatial structure, promoting specialization and cooperation of cities, and improving the integration of city clusters" are crucial in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei synergetic development, with the priority being relieving Beijing of non-capital functions orderly.

Meanwhile, existing problems can also be found through satellite images. In the nighttime images, Beijing and Tianjin are ablaze with lights, while most cities in Hebei province are still quite desolated. This contrast between light and dark reflects the differences between urban and rural areas as well as the unbalanced development in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area vividly. The synergetic development will be affected if the development gap continues to be widened without control. Balanced and integrated development is the primary task in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei synergetic development. To this end, we should improve the compensation mechanism and promote mutual assistance, resource sharing, and win-win cooperation in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area to fuel its synergetic development internally.

Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region as the center of the Bohai Bay area is a vital engine for Chinese economic development. Its development is important to the long-term development of not only this region, but also the whole nation. It can also provide experience and reference for other city clusters. The remote sensing satellite images tell us: the current achievements in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area are contributed by "coordination", which should remain to be a priority in future development.