2018 Jing'an in Session
Jing’an District lawmakers and political advisors held their annual meetings in January. The event is called the “Two Sessions.” The twin sessions review progress in the year just ended and discussed the top priority policies for the coming year.The agenda tells the story.
A bountiful 2017
A makeover for Suhe Bay
Suhe Bay, the size of 602 soccer fields, was once a dilapidated residential area along Suzhou Creek, home to migrants and low-income households.
Work continued last year on plans to transform the area.
Decayed buildings beyond use or repair are being torn down. About 500,000 square meters of historical buildings -- from lane-style residential neighborhoods to old warehouses -- will be retained, repaired and restored.
Those escaping razing are the turn-of-the-century Ewo Packing Factory warehouse, the former residence of artist Wu Changshuo and the typical shikumen neighborhood of Junyili. These buildings will be given protected status and turned into facilities such as museums or cultural centers.
The area also features a central park and a 6.3-kilometer pedestrian pathway. Riverside platforms or some other park-like feature will be built every 500 meters.
The rehabilitated area will also include modern commercial zones.
Booming financial hub
At the end of 2017, Jing’an was home to the regional headquarters of 70 multinational companies, including the Shanghai units of German chemical distribution company Brenntag AG and Dutch lighting company Lumileds.
Some US$1.02 billion of foreign investment flowed into the district last year, and foreign companies accounted for more than half of the district’s tax revenues.
Under a new system pioneered by the district last year, Jing’an officials took personal responsibility to address problems like illegal roadside structures and traffic offenses.
Currently, the district has more than 200 “road chiefs” in charge of 246 roads. Chen Yueming is one of them.
Chen, deputy Party chief of the Jing’ansi Community, is responsible for a 2.7-kilometer section of Huashan Road. He patrols the section at least twice a week, and came up with ideas to help restaurant owners along the street handle waste.
“Previously, they just threw bags of kitchen scraps on the street,” Chen said. “Now, we have waste pickup three times a day.”
On Changzhong Road, road chief Yu Linwei, Party head of the Linfen Road Community, intervened to have a 20-year-old illegal structure torn down. It was replaced with two mini-pavilions for reading.
“We stocked the pavilions with books, and people can come and exchange their books for others,” Yu said.
Protecting historical and cultural relics
The Jing’an Historical and Cultural Scenic Zone and Heritage Architecture Protection Commission was created in 2017.
Commission officials finished a study of the district’s 25 historical and cultural scenic zones and formulated plans related to rehabilitation and protection.
Jing’an has a potted history. In the 1920s and 30s, the city was divided into an international settlement, the French Concession and a walled-off area for Chinese residents. Today’s Jing’an encompasses all that history. It has century-old shikumen neighborhoods, art deco-style modern apartments, garden villas and industrial factories.
A promising 2018
Jing’an will bring 123 public restrooms up to first-class standards.
Among them, 50 facilities will be “smart toilets,” backed by computerized systems to monitor odors, hygiene and cleaning schedules.
Some 30 restrooms for the disabled will be upgraded to provide safety equipment like handrails and also facilities for mothers with small children.
Revitalizing old brands
Jing’an proudly claims many of Shanghai’s most venerable commercial brands. Time has not always been kind to them. Some have been stereotyped as old-fashioned. Nearly three out of 10 of the old brands reported losses of more than 15 percent last year.
Still, standouts prevail. Humsuit, an upscale store from a by-gone era, perseveres with its famous tailoring business, while the popular Wangjiasha eatery has expanded to Hong Kong and overseas.
The government plans to help old brand companies introduce modern management, compete in the marketplace and tell the public their illustrious stories. More of the old brands will be encouraged to open online stores.
Jing’an is dotted with old houses, with their inherent risk of fire. To provide more safety, the district has already installed “mini fire stations” in 273 local neighborhoods and 481 businesses. This year, 1,000 volunteers and security guards who work in the stations will be trained by firefighters to ensure they know how to handle emergencies. About 20,000 fire alarms also will be installed in old residential neighborhoods.
Indexing historic sites
Officials will complete the cataloguing of 388 heritage architectural sites that have yet to receive protected status. Information like the age and style of each building will be registered so that the buildings aren’t torn down during urban renewal projects.
Sprucing up backstreets
Work will continue to build up areas of boutique shops along the backstreets feeding from Nanjing Road West. The plans affect Jiangning, Nanyang and Fengxian roads. Some historical buildings on Shaanxi Road North are expected to open to visitors.
Cultural and sports venues
The old Hubei Movie Theater will be renovated. Two new 24-hour self-service libraries will be built, along with six walking trails and two public basketball courts.
‘Two Sessions’ voices
Political advisor Sun Honglin suggested simplifying administrative procedures related to applications for new elderly care facilities and more incentives for skilled nurses and caregivers.
Political advisor Xia Liuwei suggested an upgrade to the parking lot at the Shanghai Hotel, a major parking venue in the downtown Jing’ansi area. He suggested repairs to the malfunctioning automated parking system and the creation of a database to offer real-time parking information for drivers.
Lawmaker Shao Jianjian suggested that office buildings and shopping malls open their parking lots to nearby residents at night for low fees to address the overnight parking crunch in neighborhoods.
Digital ID cards
Lawmaker Lu Minjun suggested digital ID cards for every resident. The cards would carry personal information on them, eliminating the need for people to carry documents.