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Chongming Island to develop into a tourist haven
( 2004-01-05 00:49) (China Daily)

Chongming Island, China's third largest island, will focus its future development on tourism, resorts and exhibition centres, with no large-scale industrialization plans.

The long-waited general development plan for the island, which is regarded as "Shanghai's last piece of pristine land,'' has been completed and is waiting for a final approval from the local and central governments, according to the general office of Shanghai municipal government.

"It (the plan) has been almost set but certain revisions are still possible before a final approval,'' Li Shenghui, an official of suburban development of the general office, told China Daily.

The plan, which looks at the island's progress up to 2020, is considered another key strategic step by the Shanghai government in the coming two decades following its successful development of its Pudong into a prosperous financial district in 1990s, according to Li.

Under the draft plan, Chongming will increase its current forest coverage from 16 per cent to 55 per cent by 2020 and building itself into an "eco-friendly island,'' or a "sea garden.''

"Our long-term goal is to build Chongming into an environmentally-friendly island,'' said Huang Tiejun, vice governor of Chongming county, told an irrigation work conference earlier.

Chen Hua, an engineer under the island's irrigation authority, told said that the Shanghai government had given orders to start some gigantic water conservation projects this year to meet the island's forestation plans.

Chongming's ecology will mainly consist of forests, lakes, wetlands and farmlands, Chen said.

Under the plan, the island's gross domestic product per capita is also expected to reach around US$20,000 by 2020, equalling or slightly surpassing Shanghai's expected average.

To meet the goal, the 1,200-square-kilometre island will be divided into five areas, with a special function for each.

The eastern part of the island, which boasts the Dongtan wetlands, a resting place for birds migrating between Siberia and Australia, will be reserved as whole as a showcase of the island's friendly ecological environment.

The central area of the island, currently the location of Chongming Dongping Forest Park, will further expand its forest and renovating the area into Shanghai's largest public recreational area.

The north part, close to Jiangsu Province, will scheduled for large-scale theme parks and stadiums, with certain land reserved for the development of ecological agriculture.

The south area of the island, where Chongming county government is now based, will be an area for residence and certain pollution-free industries.

And the western part, with a 200-hectare Mingzhu Lake (or Bright Pearl Lake) will be built into an international exhibition and convention area.

Chen Wei, a regional economy expert of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, noted however, such a general plan still lacks some "bright spots.''

"If the island can clinch some key projects, such as a Disney theme park, it will possibly make breakthroughs in its progress,'' Chen said, who revealed that Chongming county government is actively negotiating with Shanghai government for a large theme park project.

Chen also noted that certain preferential policies by the central government would be essential to propel the process of the island's development.

In another development, Shanghai has decided to build a Shanghai-Chongming expressway, totalling 25.5 kilometres.

The expressway, which will be completed around 2008, includes a 8.95-kilometre tunnel connecting Shanghai's Pudong district with Changxing Island and 10.29-kilometre cable-stayed bridge will also be built between Changxing and Chongming islands.

The expressway will further expand in the future to connect Chongming with Jiangsu Province in the north via a cross-sea bridge, according to local planning authorities.

Chongming Island, situated at the mouth of Yangtze River, has a population of 650,000 and an area of nearly 1,200 square kilometres.

It is China's third-largest island after Taiwan and Hainan.

Currently, agriculture is Chongming's backbone industry.

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