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Steel-producing Hebei province sees 2015 growth at 6.8%

[BEIJING] China's biggest steel-producing province, Hebei, expects to achieve economic growth of 6.8 per cent in 2015 from the previous year, state media said on Sunday, as the area grapples with tougher anti-pollution measures and slowing demand.

The province surrounding the capital, Beijing, churns out nearly a quarter of Chinese steel output, but is now taking the brunt of a campaign to cut dependence on heavy and polluting industrial capacity.

Hebei had set an annual GDP target of around 7 per cent as part of its 13th five-year plan - a blueprint for economic and social development between 2016 and 2020, state news agency Xinhua said.

Governor Zhang Qingwei said China's campaign to curb pollution had reduced Hebei's growth rate by about 0.9 percentage points in 2015, Xinhua said.

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The province will push forward "green development" and industrial restructuring, it added.

Hebei is home to seven of China's 10 smoggiest cities, official 2014 air quality data show, and officials have long complained it has been asked to sacrifice too much in the "war on pollution".

Last year, the province's top Communist Party official said it was paying "a huge price" for the war on pollution.

Hebei has struggled to find alternative sources of growth and hopes a new plan to integrate its economy with the prosperous nearby cities of Beijing and Tianjin will help cut its reliance on steel and coal.