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Metropolis to maintain fast growth
( 2004-01-12 09:40) (China Daily by Liang Yu)

China's biggest city is determined to maintain the fast pace of growth in both economic and social development it has enjoyed over the past decade.

This is the objective for 2004 as Shanghai strives to become a modern metropolis functioning as a major international financial, trading and shipping hub, a city government adviser told China Daily.

"It's no doubt that Shanghai is no longer the place that outshines its peers nationwide, but despite the new circumstances, the city will firmly progress towards its aim,'' said Wu Xiuyi, deputy director of the Development Research Centre of the Shanghai municipal government.

Despite its own highly-praised development achievements in the past decade, Shanghai has seen quite a few areas around China catching up with it in recent years.

The areas include Northeast China, which is reviving the local traditional heavy industrial sectors, and South China, and even parts of Central China, that are expected to take off thanks to CEPA (Closer Economic Partnership Agreement) between the central government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

And even the neighbouring provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang have posed a challenge to the mighty metropolis due to their strong growth since the late 1980s, although more signs have appeared of co-operation and exchanges in the Yangtze River Delta region.

Yet that doesn't necessarily mean that Shanghai's golden age "witnessed by the world over the past decade "have passed into the history books.

As revealed earlier by Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng, the city has targeted further growth in its gross domestic product of more than 10 per cent for 2004, which, if achieved, will represent the 13th consecutive year of double-digit GDP growth.

"We believe such a target is attainable, as long as the overall development of China remains on track,'' said Wu.

In 2003, Shanghai chalked up an 11.8 per cent GDP growth, despite the impact of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in the second quarter, hitting the local service industry very hard, including many hotels and restaurants.

Behind such an ambitious aim is a seemingly more practical approach to be taken by Shanghai in handling its development.

Shanghai needs a clear understanding of its current position against the backdrop of the whole country's reform and opening as well as overall economic development, and all the work should be carried out in a more farsighted and creative way, said Shanghai Party Secretary Chen Liangyu, when addressing an earlier Party conference.

"Shanghai will focus on fostering the modern service industry as well as advanced manufacturing industry,'' said Wu. "The two sectors will hopefully buoy up the city's growth in the long run while differentiating Shanghai from what other domestic peers are engaged in.''

In that case, what is predictable for 2004 is an increase in the inflow of businesses, plus capital and human resources, in related sectors like finance, insurance, shipping, information technology as well as equipment manufacturing, according to Wu.

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