Trendy suburban towns meet to discuss their future
So-called "characteristic towns" are a trendy way of developing rural areas, and they're spreading in China like mushrooms after rain.
Shanghai has nine such state-level towns, along with more than 100 suburban towns.
The notion of characteristic towns was first put forward in Zhejiang Province to refer to suburban areas featuring outstanding culture, industry or technology.
But how should each town develop its own "characteristic," and what should local authorities do to strike a balance between economy and ecology?
The chiefs of Shanghai's nine characteristic towns sat down with senior industry insiders in Wujing Town on Sunday to share their thoughts on promoting the new develop pattern.
Wujing is one of the nine towns, being an old industrial area in the southwest of suburban Minhang District.
Shanghai Jiao Tong University and East China Normal University both built campuses in Wujing, as well as Zizhu High-Tech Park, an industrial park where many Fortune Global 500 and fashion brands are based.
The town has mapped out a three-year plan to transform itself into a highland of cutting-edge technology and fashion.
Wu Zhipeng, a researcher from Zhejiang Province who is also one of the main planners of characteristic towns in Zhejiang, said that the town should take full advantage of renowned universities and Zizhu high-tech park choosing to settle there.
“We should definitely collaborate with the Fortune Global 500 like Microsoft and Intel more,” Wu said.
Shanghai is still feeling its way through the proper development of characteristic towns, and problems remain.
Zhang Bing, party secretary of Fengjing Town — one of the first three characteristic towns of Shanghai — said many towns have focused too much on one particular industry.
“We used to worry too much about what appearance we wanted to make of the town instead of what we have to offer,” Zhang said.
China aims to establish 1,000 characteristic towns by 2020.
“The collision of ideas will also bring more possibilities to the development and transformation to all of these towns,” said Guo Qingsong, vice-principle of the Shanghai Party Institute of the CPC.