CHINA> Shanghai Prospect
Shanghai has a broader role to play

Updated: 2005-12-24 18:34

Two weeks after the opening of the Yangshan Deep-water Port, substantially raising Shanghai's profile as an international shipping centre, Pudong International Airport began its second phase of construction on Thursday - set to transform the airport into the third largest in the world by 2010.

The two gigantic projects represent major advances in the transportation infrastructure of the city, strengthening its competitiveness both domestically and internationally.

While Shanghai should spare no effort in realizing its aspiration to become an international economic, financial, trade and shipping centre, the city should also do more to serve the Yangtze Delta, the East China area and the whole country.

There is no doubt that Shanghai has done a great deal in that respect already, by indirectly helping other regions across China.

Most of the passengers that come and go through Shanghai's Pudong Airport are not locals.

Shanghai has also opened its arms to numerous Chinese and foreign companies - 20,000 businesses from neighbouring Zhejiang Province alone have found a place in the metropolis.

A large amount of the trade passing through Shanghai's customs comes from or goes to other provinces.

Shanghai houses the stock exchange, gold exchange, forex exchange, diamond exchange, technology exchange, talent market and many other essential markets utilized by people throughout the country.

Shanghai itself has also become the home for numerous professionals and migrant workers from all over China.

Despite all these excellent contributions to the region and nation, the city could do more.

Shanghai should no longer compete - or at least not as fiercely - with neighbouring provinces for foreign direct investment intended for manufacturing projects. Shanghai's limited land resources and deteriorating environment simply do not allow that.

Shanghai should speed up the shift of its manufacturing businesses to neighbouring provinces.

Shanghai should also be more than pleased to see its immediate neighbour, Suzhou, boasting a microelectronic industry on par with its own.

Of course, helping others does not just mean offering financial assistance without reciprocity, especially now that China has switched to a market economy.

A win-win game has been the catchword in China over the last few years. This should also be true for Shanghai as it plays a more important role in serving the region and the whole nation.

Fortunately the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) for Shanghai, currently being drawn up, will have an emphasis on the city playing this kind of role.

The plan, which will be announced in a few weeks - after its approval by the Municipal People's Congress - is likely to reflect Shanghai's generosity and also the spirit of win-win opportunities that will dominate much of the 21st century in China.

Shanghai should celebrate its amazing achievements over the last decade. It has a formidable task ahead to become an international economic, financial, trade and shipping centre; and better serving the whole country should remain a priority.