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Spirit of Zhangjiagang

( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2015-04-22

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The city's efforts to develop its green environment have paid its dividends for young couples such as Zanetti and Tang in fostering a desire to reside in the city.

"We live in the west side of the city which is a new area. There's a river there which used to be very deserted. Before it was abandoned but now its really a beautiful place. You can see the birds coming back to the area," said Zanetti.

Over 300,000 tourists visit Zhangjiagang every year, such is the novelty and fame of the city as a "mini-Singapore", where the environment is clean and citizens are polite and friendly. Famous for its many green spaces and parks, Zhangjiagang was chosen as one of the first pilot sanitary cities in 1994 to develop its environment. As a result, authorities in the city have re-energized areas that were previously neglected, planted thousands of trees and implemented a number of programs to create a harmonious society.

"Something I've noticed is that people enjoy going out for a walk in the evenings after dinner," said Zanetti, who likened the phenomenon to the Mediterranean culture, where evening strolls are commonplace.

"There's a free shuttle but to the shopping center, fitness paths in parks and people with a local card can rent bicycles for free," said Tang. "It's a good place for the environment."

The city still has a long way to go in developing its infrastructure, regulating its industries and creating amenities that cater for a western audience, but for Kastner, he hopes that he can continue coming to the city regularly for the next five years.

"I'm excited to see the young people coming into the city and bringing fresh ideas and a global awareness."

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