Photo: Business Insider
In China, for good luck, fireworks often go off when construction begins on a new site.We were in Shanghai in late December and heard fireworks a lot, maybe because Shanghai is right next to Pu Dong, a city that the Chinese government hopes will become a bustling financial and commercial centre, and a successful sister city to Shanghai.
- The master plan identifies four key development zones: The Lujiazui Finance & Trade Zone for international financial institutions; the Jinqiao Export Processing Zone, for new and high-tech businesses; the Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone and the harbor area, for integrated services related to trade, warehousing, export processing, etc. and the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, for the development of hi-tech industries.
- The government poured RMB25 billion into the city by 2000, and expected to raise another RMB100 billion to build the Pudong Airport.
- “If all the growth targets in the master plan for Pudong are achieved, this new development area of Shanghai will become an international financial, foreign trade and service centre by the year 2010.”
Having been to Pu Dong, we can tell you that the reality we saw looks like this: the city has an airport, a lot of factories and a bunch of flashy new buildings (like an Apple store), but not too much else going on.
It needs a lot of work, but there are enough people living and working there that it could make it (plus, Disneyland is coming).
But looking back on what Mr. Yao Xi-Tang wrote in 2010 — “Since 1990, the government has been grooming Pudong for that day in 2010 when it can ascend to the level of other world-class financial centres” — it’s almost funny.
However, Mr. Yao Xi-Tang’s plans to create an “international financial, foreign trade and service centre by the year 2010,” have obviously been scrapped for a new plan that allows a few more decades.
Frankly, we can’t believe that he was ever that ambitious. China announced plans to develop the city just 20 years ago in 1990, so his plans were extremely (naively?) overzealous. But based on the amount of construction still going on there, we imagine that a lot of people continue to have faith that it will become a popular place to live for people who are commuting into Shanghai or working in Pu Dong.
In fact, Pudong residents recently posted their opinions on how the development is going, and we encourage you to click here and read it for an idea of how far it’s come.
“The changes over the past 10 years have been very dramatic. My apartment building was literally the only one in the area when I first moved in, but you can see all kinds of tall buildings in every corner of the area now,” says Lelakul. “It has been changing all the time and suddenly accelerated after 2007.”
So in the eyes of its residents, the city has come a long way. But as you’ll see, their opinions are relative to the apparent state of the city 10 years ago: near-vacant destitution.
So we can’t see Pu Dong becoming a “world-class financial centre” on a competitive level happening any time soon.
About half of the city looks brand new, but the other half… you’ll see.
We’re not experts, but after walking and driving around the city for a day and talking to a few people who live in nearby Shanghai, we made a few observations of what’s happening in Pudong.