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China's Hebei province sets up $7 billion financing vehicle to shore up local economy

By Min Zhang and David Stanway
Employees work on a production line manufacturing protective suits at a clothing factory in Shijiazhuang

By Min Zhang and David Stanway

BEIJING (Reuters) - The northern Chinese province of Hebei has established a special financing vehicle worth 50 billion yuan ($7.1 billion) to help get the local economy up and running again after being hit by coronavirus disruptions.

The funding is aimed at helping businesses resume production, stabilising investment and ensuring that planned infrastructure projects including venues for the Winter Olympics, will continue to move forward, the Hebei Development and Reform Commission said on its website on Thursday.

The coronavirus epidemic has killed more than 2,100 and analysts believe China's first-quarter economic growth may dip below 5%.

Hebei, which surrounds the capital Beijing, is China's top steel producer and the province is working on a new development zone that will become a regional economic hub.

The province has planned 163 new projects in 2020 worth a combined 443.6 billion yuan. These include infrastructure projects worth 138.9 billion yuan and new steel projects worth 65.2 billion yuan, the planning commission said in a document in January.

(Reporting by Min Zhang and David Stanway; Editing by Kim Coghill and Edwina Gibbs)