Pudong covets tech hub status
Pudong, home to China’s Wall Street, is striving to become a global hub of scientific and technological innovation by attracting talented personnel as it celebrates its first quarter-century.
The district opened up to foreign investment in 1990. It subsequently launched China’s first stock exchange — in its financial heartland of Lujiazui — and welcomed a batch of foreign financial institutions led by Japan’s Fuji Bank.
It later merged with Nanhui district and, 18 months ago, saw the opening of the recently expanded China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, a test bed for financial and other reforms to be potentially replicated nationwide.
“We are keen to lead innovation and expand the reforms of the free trade zone to the whole district by gathering research institutions, innovators and global creative resources,” said Sun Jiwei, governor of Pudong district.
On Monday, the State Council, China’s cabinet, announced a series of measures to further reform and open up the Shanghai FTZ as well as three similar zones in other parts of the country.
The Shanghai FTZ was expanded from 28 square kilometers to 120.72 sq km and tasked with supporting national strategies such as the development of the Yangtze River economic zone, the exploration of new modes of regional economic cooperation, and the creation of a more efficient business environment under the rule of law, according to a statement issued along with the plan.
“We will attract more talented international workers in high-tech industries and transform the district into an area to the rest of the world,” said Chen Weihua.
“Awareness of the free trade zone and indeed Shanghai in the United States is now considerably larger than I would have expected,” he added.
“I’ve noticed that more American businessmen are interested in the trade zone and this should lead to more investment,” said Chen, who is based in Washington.
Pudong has already become a hotspot for foreign investors. The success rate of foreign investment in Pudong is 68.3 percent, far higher than the national average of 30 percent, according to government figures.
The Shanghai Disney Resort, which is expected to open in Pudong early next year, has also connected local enterprises with foreign business partners.
Two Chinese companies have been named authorized dealers for Walt Disney Co. Their combined annual sales revenue is projected to exceed 100 million yuan ($16.1 million).
Meanwhile, the district government is promoting innovation and encouraging more local companies to experiment with ways of designing their products and researching new ones.
“We offer equally convenient policies and subsidies for both local and foreign companies that try to add more science and technology to their products in creative ways,” said Kong Lingyi, chief of the hitech industrialization division at the district’s Science & Technology Commission.
Some foreign firms that are headquartered in Pudong have already changed their business strategies to design and manufacture goods in China to export them overseas.
Honeywell Vice-Chairman Roger Fradin said the company moved its Asia-Pacific headquarters to Pudong in 2003 to reflect the importance of the Chinese market.
One year later, the US manufacturer of aircraft parts and electronic equipment established its global research and development center there.
Shanghai was chosen because of its generous pool of expats, prestigious universities and talented technologyrelated personnel, he said.
Earlier this year, the group was recognized by the district government for having one of the top regional headquarters among all multinationals in China.
“(We) also received terrific incentives and support to build the R&D center,” Fradin added.
Apart from its cluster of regional headquarters, Pudong aims to become a leading incubator of SMEs.
“Pudong used to rely for its development on inflowing foreign or joint capital, but the focus from this year is on the growth of private enterprise,” said Sun. “We want to make Pudong the No 1 player in China in this respect.”
As of last year the district had 22 high-tech business incubators including 14 citylevel ones. They assisted over 400 enterprises.
Detailed rules were laid out that year to level up the service function and financing abilities of business incubators to help small enterprises weed out problems that could stop them getting off the ground.
“Those former SMEs have now become key players bringing innovation into the district,” said Shen Xiaoming, the Party secretary for Pudong.
More foreign companies will be encouraged to set up R&D centers in the district with attractive subsidies, he added.
can boast a skyline to rival that of Pudong's.