Shanghai explores new paths as high-quality development takes center-stage

Huang Yixuan
The report to the ongoing 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China noted that high-quality development is the primary task of building a modern socialist country.
Huang Yixuan

Shanghai has been continuously exploring new paths to high-quality development, with some city authorities and enterprises listing success stories.

The report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China delivered on Tuesday noted that high-quality development is the primary task of building a modern socialist country in a comprehensive manner.

Delegates from Shanghai, who are attending the Party's 20th National Congress in Beijing, see achieving high-quality development as an essential requirement for China's modernization.

Heading towards it, efforts are being made in the city to implement the new development philosophy, build modern industrial systems, and find new paths to high-quality development.

Speaking of high-quality development, Cheng Xiangmin, Party secretary of Shanghai's Songjiang District, insisted that local authorities don't fear challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic but "the question is, how to deal with the impacts."

Amid such countercurrents, implementing the new development philosophy often means giving up purely quantitative stimulus, which can sometimes lead to momentary pressure with weak economic figures, according to Cheng.

"At times like these, it is a big decision whether to stick to innovation and transformation or revert to the old way of extensive economic growth," he said.

Shanghai explores new paths as high-quality development takes center-stage

Jindi Fanglin, a commercial complex expected to open in Songjiang District next year, is one of the commercial facilities the district is building to create a convenient living environment representing high-quality growth where business centers and other commercial complexes are within a 15-minute walk from local residential communities.

Cheng gave the example of Songjiang, which faced just such a choice.

Real estate land prices in the suburban district a few years ago were about 30 million yuan (US$4.15 million) per mu, while industrial land only cost 1 million yuan per mu. The general consensus was that real estate could only bring one-off gains to Songjiang, while the real economy could lead to sustained revenue.

Local authorities have since given priority to land for advanced manufacturing projects and adjusted more than 1,000 mu of real estate land into industrial land, creating incremental space for industrial land, which was approaching the ceiling at the time.

Songjiang has also decisively subtracted inefficient space, eliminating a large amount of backward production capacity and freeing up nearly 7 square kilometers of land.

Meanwhile, the G60 Science and Innovation Corridor, jointly driven by technological and institutional innovation, has now become a large-scale platform for regional cooperation and industries, attracting a large number of advanced manufacturing projects worth tens of billions of yuan each.

In Cheng's view, Songjiang's experience is quite typical at the moment, which proves that in the face of greater challenges, regional development requires more composure and patience.

He suggested "hedging against external uncertainties with the certainty of internal development, offsetting uncertainties of the world's industrial changes by the resilience of the industrial chain and innovation chain, and hedging against the instability of market expectations with institutional innovation."

Another delegate, Wan Min, Party secretary and chairman of COSCO Shipping Group, sets store by building modern industrial systems.

The global shipping industry has been through tough times over the past decade and was hit hard by the pandemic but Wan shared the success story of COSCO with a set of remarkable figures: Since it settled in Shanghai in 2016, the enterprise has seen its total assets top 1 trillion yuan, its operating income up from 197.6 billion yuan to 542.7 billion yuan, while its net profit has surged from 4 billion yuan to 105 billion yuan. It ranked 127th in this year's Fortune Global 500 enterprises list.

As the world's largest integrated shipping enterprise, COSCO has of late conducted a cross-shareholding with SAIC Group, which has posted the highest domestic production and sales among all enterprises in China.

This collaboration, which links the modern service industry with the advanced manufacturing sector, is aimed at jointly seizing the opportunity of domestic automobile exports, Wan noted.

He spoke highly of Shanghai, where the company's headquarters are located, saying it "has the world's top-ranked container port, shipbuilding enterprises, steel enterprises, port machinery firms and shipping companies."

Shanghai explores new paths as high-quality development takes center-stage

The city is actively promoting the construction of a world-class shipping and aviation hub, optimizing the collection and distribution system which integrates transport by land, sea, air, rail and water.

"The efforts to build a modern industrial system and achieve integrated development have brought huge synergies," Wan observed.

From January to September this year, COSCO's revenues, net profits and tax payments jumped 21 percent, 6.8 percent and 179 percent year on year, respectively.

"COSCO's development in recent years is a concrete manifestation of its adherence to the Chinese path to modernization," Wan pointed out.

The Lingang Special Area of Shanghai's Free Trade Zone, meanwhile, serves as a test field for reforms and institutional opening-up.

Enterprises and staff in the Lingang area are all working hard on promoting reforms and innovation with further opening-up and building modern systems to have more say in International economic and trade rules, according to Lu Yingqing, Party secretary and chairman of Shanghai Lingang Special Area Investment Holding Group.

She believes high-standard opening-up can create a good ecology for high-quality development.

Lu cited Lingang as an example: Over the past three years, the industrial investment in the new area has reached 470 billion yuan, while the area is now home to more of the world's top science laboratories and foundations.

The congress report puts forward a series of new measures on steadily expanding the institutional opening-up involving rules, regulations, management and standards, to create a market-oriented, law-based and international first-class business environment, Lu said, in line with which they will make further efforts in Lingang to better serve national strategies.

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