Sun shines early on Lingang special area

Li Xinran
Zhu Zhisong says the area's destiny is to become a modern seaport city and an independent comprehensive hub from where people in Shanghai can enjoy the best view of the sea.
Li Xinran

Lingang is where the earliest sunrise in Shanghai can be seen, according to Zhu Zhisong, executive deputy director of the Lingang Special Area Administrative Committee.

Lingang’s destiny is to become a modern seaport city and an independent comprehensive hub from where people in Shanghai can enjoy the best view of the sea, he added.

A year after Lingang was included in the Shanghai free trade zone and became a special area for China’s further reform and opening-up, the port town on the East China Sea stands at the forefront to fulfill the country’s promise to provide free investment, trade, capital, transportation and employment on its ground and in surrounding waters.

In the past year, agreements of 358 projects, involving a total investment of 271.3 billion yuan (US$39.2 billion), had been reached. During the same period, almost half of the 78 policies and institutional innovations in line with the overall plan for the development of Lingang have been implemented, Zhu said.

From January to July, it is estimated that the investment in fixed assets in Lingang would increase by 32.8 percent from a year ago, industrial investment would increase by 69.8 percent and total industrial output value would increase by 26 percent, compared with the same period a year ago.

Since the inception of the special area, 15,115 new enterprises have been established with registered capital exceeding 200 billion yuan.

“Before the end of the year, we still have two goals. One is to invest 200 billion yuan in cutting-edge science and technology industries; the other is to meet the needs of modern urban function construction, and to start projects with 200 billion yuan in transportation, medical care, education, health, smart city, environmental protection and other fields by the end of this year, so as to make greater contributions to Shanghai’s economic development and the integration of Yangtze River Delta,” Zhu said.

Lingang enjoys exclusive advantages in its location, Zhu said. Taking Yangshan Port and Pudong International Airport as two wings, the Lingang Special Area enjoys exclusive advantages from its location since the new town on the East China Sea is the central link of a sea route connecting Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and the rest of the world.

Yangshan Port, the world’s biggest container terminal, handled 19.8 million TEUs last year, while Pudong International Airport has become the third-largest airport in the world.

On land, the coastal high-speed railway goes southward to Shanghai East Railway Station, continues to extend to Lingang, and leads to Hangzhou in the West. Hence, Lingang is the turning point of the high-speed rail hub on the shore.

Over the past year, Lingang has given full play to the administrative authority of independent development, reform and innovation, and has carried out institutional innovations pertinently.

The municipal government has granted 1,170 administrative examination and approval and administrative law enforcement powers to the Lingang Special Area Administrative Committee, covering 20 fields, such as talent, intellectual property rights, planning resources, and transportation construction, largely exceeding other regional administrative authorities in the city, making Lingang take a leading role throughout the country.

Facing unprecedented changes in 2020, the central leadership put forward the strategy to build a “new development pattern with domestic economic cycle as the major role, together with the mutual promotion of both domestic and international economic cycle.”

Hence, Lingang is bound to undertake a new mission, according to Zhu. 

“On the one hand, Lingang needs to play as a bridge linking domestic and international economic cycle. In particular, it should become an important hub for the overall development of onshore and offshore businesses and an important channel for better utilization of the two markets and their resources,” Zhu said.

“To some extent, it requires us to be an important link of the domestic and international cycle. We should make greater breakthroughs in the areas of investment freedom, trade freedom, capital freedom, shipping freedom, employment freedom and fast-data connectivity, accelerate the opening-up of domestic and international markets, and promote the high-quality development of social economy with the high-level opening of institution and policy,” Zhu added.

“On the other hand, Lingang should play the role of ‘growth pole and engine’ in the domestic cycle. Amid the current situation of increasing downward pressure on the economy, as a major part of a new round of strategic expansion, Lingang has broad development space and must become a ‘new high ground’ of economic development.

“We will take the opening advantages of Yangshan Special Comprehensive Bonded Zone and other policies to form a new economic growth point, improve the economic quality with a new round of layout of cutting-edge industries, such as integrated circuits, biomedicine and new energy vehicles, expand the scale of investment with the promotion of urban construction, such as transportation and housing, education and health, and ecological improvement, and accelerate the implementation of various major projects to contribute Lingang’s strength on the way back to the right track,” Zhu said.

“Our mission is to further play the role of ‘test ground’ and ‘wind vane’ in opening-up, increase the risk stress test of open economy, produce more breakthrough and leading reform and innovation achievements, and to create a special economic functional zone with more international market influence and competitiveness,” Zhu said.

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