The Beijing municipal government will relocate some of its offices from the city centre to the suburban town of Tongzhou as part of a plan to integrate the capital with nearby Tianjin City and Hebei Province, according to multiple media reports on the mainland as well as in Hong Kong.

beijing traffic photo
Photo: pmorgan, via Flickr

Last Friday, the Southern Weekend cited a few civil servants in Beijing as saying they have received notice that their offices will be moved to Tongzhou, a suburban district with a population of around 1.2 million.

A day later, Hong Kong’s Wen Wei Po said Beijing’s four main government bodies, including the municipal government, its party committee, municipal legislature as well as its political consultative body, will all move to Tongzhou before the National Day on October 1 this year. The newspaper cited unnamed “authoritative” sources as saying a detailed relocation plan will be released soon.

The report said construction on a road connecting downtown Beijing and Tongzhou was sped up as a result of the plan. It also said some hospitals, universities and headquarters of state-owned enterprises will also move out of the city centre in the future as part of a plan to reduce population in six downtown districts by 15%.

Buoyed by the rumour, shares of the Beijing Capital Development Co.,Ltd (600376.SH) jumped 10.01% at the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Monday.

In response to heated online discussions, propaganda officials earlier this month urged the public to ignore internet rumours and wait for official statements.

china commute photo
Photo: Wootang01, via Flickr

In 2004, a Beijing town planning policy statement listed Tongzhou as one of three key satellite towns the Government intended to build into “sub-centres”. The town is home to hundreds of thousands of young people who live here and work in downtown Beijing. Labelled the “ant tribe”, these young workers, many of them are college graduates working in offices, live in Tongzhou and spend hours on daily commute to save housing costs.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.