Promoting Sustainable Development in Pudong

Promoting sustainable development in pudong
Established in Pudong in July 1992, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park aims to be a “science city” suitable for residential living. by Liu Sihong

In 1990, China launched the development and opening up of Pudong New Area in Shanghai. Deng Xiaoping, considered the chief architect of China’s reform and opening up, once elaborated on the importance of Pudong’s opening up and development: “Shenzhen faces Hong Kong, Zhuhai faces Macao and Xiamen faces Taiwan, but Pudong faces the Pacific Ocean—just across the pond from the United States and Europe, and even the whole world.” This statement undoubtedly elevated the position of Pudong’s development and opening up.

After 28 years of rapid development, Pudong has been transformed from a “barren marsh” into the “bellwether” of Chinese development, emerging as an international economic, financial, trade and shipping hub. Pudong is also as proud of its social progress as much as its economic development. It has become the representative of China’s reform and opening up and the epitome of Shanghai’s modernization.

Achievements and Experience

Shanghai has consistently set records on the heights of buildings over the past 28 years. At present, the metropolis is home to five skyscrapers above 300 meters and 1,000-plus high-rises above 100 meters. These skyscrapers serve as a testament to Shanghai’s urban and economic development. In September 2016, China Cultural Relics Academy and the Architectural Society of China jointly released the first list of Chinese architectural heritage of the 20th century. Both the Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower (1995) and Shanghai Jinmao Tower (1999) in Pudong made the list.

Over the past 28 years, Pudong’s economic aggregate soared from six billion yuan in 1990 to more than 965 billion yuan in 2017. During the same period, its total fiscal revenue rose from 1.1 billion yuan to nearly 394 billion yuan. Today, 30,000 foreign-funded enterprises, 281 regional headquarters of multinational corporations, and the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone all call Pudong home.

On July 22, 1990, the construction of Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone, Jinqiao Export Processing Zone and Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone was launched in Shanghai. Now, the three zones all offer distinctive advantages. Lujiazui is home to nearly 40,000 enterprises from home and abroad which form an industrial system with finance, shipping and trade as its core. Jinqiao has upgraded to intelligent manufacturing and built an ecosphere involving biological medicine, big data and the Internet of Things. In 2017, the total import and export volume of Waigaoqiao reached nearly 796 billion yuan, with the industries of international trade, modern logistics and export processing as the three pillars. Waigaoqiao has become an important international trade center in Shanghai and even in China.

Pudong’s developmental experience has fostered certainty on four major pieces of advice: First, always stick to the reform and opening up. Second, promote basic development, morphological development and functional development in a coordinated manner. Third, adhere to service-oriented functions. Pudong’s development and opening up should not only serve the development of Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta, but also aim to enhance the development of the whole country and the world at large. Fourth, the construction of both material and spiritual civilizations should be carried out simultaneously.

Road to Sustainable Development

Pudong now faces the problem of fostering growth momentum and promoting sustainable social and economic development from a higher starting point. I believe that efforts should be made in the following ways:

Economic prosperity remains the prerequisite for Pudong’s sustainable development. Pudong should accelerate its industrial restructuring and maintain its strong industrial base. With the mission to build a national manufacturing model zone as an opportunity, Pudong should focus on strategic emerging industries including the new-generation information technology, intelligent manufacturing equipment, biomedical and high-end medical equipment, and the aerospace industry. It should target the mid-to-high end of the global value chain.

Innovation serves as the impetus for Pudong’s sustainable development. Pudong should enhance application depth, integration and innovation of new technologies, including the internet, big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain, to build a model national smart city. Transformation and upgrading of the consumption structure should be promoted, and new consumption modes facilitated by cutting-edge “Internet Plus” technologies should be encouraged. Development of the manufacturing-related service industry should be accelerated. Support should be given to private enterprises to promote their development, and innovation should serve as the fuel for the area’s sustainable development.

Professionals act as the foundation for Pudong’s sustainable development. Pudong should improve its human resource policy and create a sound environment for innovation, which will attract more professionals in strategic science and technology as well as more leading scientific and technological talent, young scientific and technological professionals and high-caliber innovation teams. The intelligent manufacturing industry should be driven to develop further, which will provide key human resource support for Pudong’s transformation and upgrading.

Higher-level integration between urban and rural areas needs to be promoted. Urban development bottom lines on land resources, population, ecological protection and security guarantees should be maintained. Inefficient and backward production capacities should be adjusted or eliminated. A circular economy such as recycling renewable resources with the help of “Internet Plus” technologies should be promoted. A safe and efficient public utility network should be constructed, and a convenient and smooth transit network should be built.

Efforts to protect and improve the ecological environment should continue. Promotion of the concerted development of production, livelihood and the ecology should happen in a coordinated way. The focal point of work remains getting PM2.5 and ozone concentration under control. A new clean air campaign should be launched, and social and economic sustainable development should be supported by a high-quality ecological environment.

Construction of the eco-space should be reinforced. Public space functionality of the east bank of the Huangpu River should be improved, and a new countryside landscape featuring “a region of lakes, rivers, and pastoral scenery” should be created. An assessment system for ecological civilization construction should be established. Greater financial support should be diverted to bolster sustainable development. Green transportation, consumption and residences should be encouraged, and the general public should be encouraged to participate in the construction of the ecological civilization.

Comprehensive treatment of the water environment should be strengthened. The layout for the river system should be designed reasonably. The pilot construction of the Shanghai Sponge City program, launched in 2016, should be accelerated in Pudong. The river chief scheme should be put into standard practice and the long-term mechanism for water treatment should be improved. 


The author is a researcher with the Development Research Center of China’s State Council.

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