Record­ing the Re­form and Open­ing Up of Pudong New Area

Ex­clu­sive In­ter­view with Xie Guop­ing, Au­thor of A Chi­nese Mir­a­cle: The Devel­op­ment His­tory of Pudong

China Pictorial (English) - - NEWS - Text by Qiao Zhenqi

“Over the past 28 years, Pudong has reached a high de­gree of in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and ur­ban­iza­tion that took de­vel­oped Euro­pean coun­tries two cen­turies to achieve.”

Se­nior me­dia pro­fes­sional Xie Guop­ing has been work­ing as a jour­nal­ist and ed­i­tor his en­tire ca­reer. He started with Pudong New Area Weekly (now Pudong Times) in 2002. Since then, he has con­tin­u­ously recorded and pon­dered over Pudong’s devel­op­ment. In the years that fol­lowed, he com­pleted three books on Pudong, a sym­bol of China’s re­form and open­ing up, namely Pudong: A Sto­ryof Eco­nomic Pros­per­ity, The Pudong Story and A Chi­nese Mir­a­cle: The Devel­op­ment His­tory of Pudong.

Zhao Qizheng, for­mer min­is­ter of China’s State Coun­cil In­for­ma­tion Of­fice and first di­rec­tor of the Ad­min­is­tra­tive Com­mit­tee of Pudong New Area, holds Xie Guop­ing in high re­gard. “Xie not only doc­u­ments the news of the present, but also ex­am­ines his­tory of the past,” com­mented Zhao. “He grew up along­side Pudong and doc­u­mented its orig­i­nal devel­op­ment his­tory, pro­vid­ing re­li­able source ma­te­ri­als for sub­se­quent re­searchers to re­flect on its his­tory and its im­pact on the his­tory of phi­los­o­phy.”

China Pic­to­rial (CP): What’s your gen­eral feel­ing about Pudong’s devel­op­ment and open­ing up over the past 28 years?

Xie: In terms of re­form and open­ing up, the Chi­nese peo­ple made the right de­ci­sion. Over the past 1,000 years, Pudong never changed much. How­ever, in just the past 28 years, the area has achieved a high de­gree of in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and ur­ban­iza­tion that took de­vel­oped Euro­pean coun­tries two cen­turies to reach. What were the driv­ers of this suc­cess? Western­ers aren’t pro­vid­ing any solid an­swers, and some­times even peo­ple like me who are im­mersed in Pudong’s devel­op­ment can­not ex­plain it.

Be­fore the devel­op­ment and open­ing up of Pudong in 1990, for most res­i­dents of Puxi—the his­toric cen­ter of Shang­hai— Pudong was a back­ward place. Back then, Pudong suf­fered from poor ur­ban con­struc­tion, nar­row roads, prim­i­tive liv­ing con­di­tions, scarce cul­tural fa­cil­i­ties and ex­tremely

in­con­ve­nient land and wa­ter trans­porta­tion. Since roads in Pudong were de­signed ac­cord­ing to county-level stan­dards, they were nar­row, with­out any bridges or over­passes. Yang­gao Road, which runs from east to west across north­ern Pudong, now of­fers eight fast lanes and two slow lanes. How­ever, in the 1950s it was just a 3.5-me­ter-wide road paved with gravel and cin­ders, nick­named “sheep bowel.” Pub­lic trans­porta­tion was even poorer back then. By the end of 1990, Pudong was served by only 48 bus routes and 35 cabs. Cross­ing the Huangpu River to reach Pudong from Puxi or the other way round was even more dif­fi­cult, given that there were no bridges, tun­nels or sub­ways at that time. The prob­lem be­came even more se­ri­ous from the 1980s. En­ter­prises lo­cated on ei­ther side of the river were plagued by bad cross-river trans­porta­tion. Traf­fic jams dur­ing rush hours were al­ready se­vere headaches and ve­hi­cles wait­ing to cross the river queued for hours ev­ery day. Some­times, the wait time to cross the river was more than 10 hours. The sit­u­a­tion be­came even worse on foggy days. Al­though Shang­hai res­i­dents were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a hous­ing short­age back then, a pop­u­lar say­ing went that “a sin­gle bed in Puxi is prefer­able to a room in Pudong.” To­day, Pudong’s devel­op­ment and changes are ap­par­ent for the whole world to see.

I re­mem­ber that when the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) an­nounced the launch and open­ing up of Pudong New Area in 1990, some Western me­dia out­lets and po­lit­i­cal forces called the move merely a po­lit­i­cal over­ture from China rather than real ac­tion. Mil­ton Fried­man ( 1912- 2006), a renowned Amer­i­can econ­o­mist and No­bel win­ner in eco­nomics, vis­ited Shang­hai around that time and de­scribed the devel­op­ment of Pudong New Area as “a Potemkin vil­lage.” The term “Potemkin vil­lage” was in­spired by sto­ries of a fake por­ta­ble vil­lage built by Rus­sian min­is­ter Grig­ory Potemkin solely to im­press Em­press Cather­ine II dur­ing her jour­ney to Crimea in the late 18th cen­tury. Later, “Potemkin vil­lage” be­came syn­ony­mous with fraud. Years later, how­ever, Lanny Eben­stein, au­thor of Mil­ton Fried­man: A Bi­og­ra­phy, opined that the econ­o­mist was wrong at that time. If he was still alive to­day, he would re­con­sider his views, the bi­og­ra­pher pre­dicted.

Renowned Bri­tish econ­o­mist and No­bel lau­re­ate Ron­ald H. Coase (1910-2013) called China’s process of em­brac­ing the mar­ket econ­omy an ex­tra­or­di­nary story. No one would have be­lieved it be­fore it hap­pened. But the mir­a­cle hap­pened just the same. CP: What is the sig­nif­i­cance of Pudong’s re­form and

devel­op­ment to Shang­hai, to China, and to the world at large? What are the dif­fer­ences be­tween Pudong and Shen­zhen in terms of re­form and devel­op­ment?

Xie: For Shang­hai, the devel­op­ment and open­ing up of Pudong solved many prob­lems re­lated to back­ward ur­ban in­fra­struc­ture and a lack of struc­tural di­ver­sity while pro­mot­ing Shang­hai’s trans­for­ma­tion as a whole. Be­fore the devel­op­ment of Pudong, Shang­hai was an in­dus­trial city with a sim­ple struc­ture. A sixth of China’s light in­dus­trial prod­ucts were made in Shang­hai. Now, Shang­hai is an in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic, fi­nan­cial, trade and ship­ping hub, as well as a sci­ence and in­no­va­tion cen­ter. It is fair to say that the devel­op­ment of Pudong has driven the over­all trans­for­ma­tion of Shang­hai. It trans­formed Shang­hai into a multi-func­tional cen­tral city on par eco­nom­i­cally with New York and Tokyo. In the 1980s, Shang­hai served as the rear guard of China’s re­form and open­ing up. How­ever, af­ter Pudong’s devel­op­ment and open­ing up, Shang­hai be­came a striker and ush­ered in a golden age of eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

In the early 1990s, China’s econ­omy faced mul­ti­ple dif­fi­cul­ties and the coun­try’s re­form was al­ready at a cross­roads. At this crit­i­cal pe­riod, the devel­op­ment of Pudong was launched, which re­sulted in a strong demon­stra­tion ef­fect. A say­ing goes: “Eco­nomic fo­cus was on Shen­zhen in the 1980s and on Pudong New Area in the 1990s.” The devel­op­ment and open­ing up of Pudong sent a sig­nal to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity that China’s re­form and open­ing up would only go deeper and broader. Deng Xiaop­ing, con­sid­ered the chief ar­chi­tect of China’s re­form and open­ing up, called Pudong China’s “trump card.” “If Shang­hai achieves fast devel­op­ment, it will pro­vide a short­cut for our over­all re­form and open­ing up,” Deng once as­serted.

Poised at the fore­front of China’s re­form and open­ing up, Shen­zhen blazed a new trail and fought its way out of ob­scu­rity in the 1980s. If Shen­zhen ran the first leg of China’s re­form and open­ing up, Pudong took up the ba­ton for the sec­ond leg. If the re­form in Shen­zhen broke the ice, the devel­op­ment of Pudong was a cru­cial bat­tle. If Shen­zhen served as a win­dow of China to the world, Pudong opened a door. Over the 40 years since China’s his­toric re­form and open­ing up, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has been per­form­ing ex­per­i­ments with poli­cies and in­sti­tu­tions in var­i­ous des­ig­nated ar­eas step by step, with a prag­matic at­ti­tude of “cross­ing the river by feel­ing the stones.” What a won­der­erful ex­per­i­ment! Look­ing back at a process that started with spe­cial l eco­nomic zones be­fore ex­pand­ing g to new ar­eas and com­pre­hen­sive re­form pilot ar­eas and fi­nally to pilot free trade zones, the main thread has al­ways been ev­i­dent: the he great ex­per­i­ment of China’s re­form rm and open­ing up.

CP: In your opin­ion, what in­flu­ences has Pudong’s re­form m ex­erted on modern sen­si­bil­i­ties? s? And how have changes in minds ds pow­ered Pudong’s devel­op­ment? nt?

Xie: It is in­ter­est­ing that Pudong was la­beled an “ex­per­i­ment” all along dur­ing its devel­op­ment. For ex­am­ple, it be­came China’s first com­pre­hen­sive re­form rm pilot area in 2005. China (Shang­hai) hai)

Pilot Free Trade Zone, which was launched in 2013, is also lo­cated in Pudong. The word “pilot” was used in the English trans­la­tion of the free trade zone’s name be­cause it car­ries the mean­ing of both “serv­ing ex­per­i­men­tally” and “lead­ing the way through un­known places” in English. Deng Xiaop­ing once asked Shang­hai to “fur­ther eman­ci­pate minds, be bolder and go faster in con­duct­ing re­form and open­ing up.” Xi Jin­ping, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, em­pha­sized that Shang­hai should find the courage to carry out ex­per­i­ments, drive re­form to a deeper level and make re­form on its own. Thus, the builders of Pudong have been be­stowed a pi­o­neer­ing, de­ter­mined and am­bi­tious spirit. They opened pas­sages through moun­tains and built bridges over rivers. To­day, Pudong has be­come the very pi­o­neer and fore­run­ner of China’s re­form, open­ing up and in­no­va­tion-ori­ented devel­op­ment. For ex­am­ple, con­sid­er­ing China (Shang­hai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, Pudong is cur­rently “mak­ing over” its lo­cal gov­ern­ment to kin­dle big­ger changes in govern­men­tal func­tions. This move calls for de­ter­mi­na­tion and the will­ing­ness to take on ma­jor re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. It de­mands that Pudong be coura­geous enough to carry out ex­per­i­ments and drive re­form to a deeper level.

CP: Against the back­drop of the anti-glob­al­iza­tion trend, what is the sig­nif­i­cance of Pudong’s con­tin­u­ously ex­pand­ing re­form and open­ing up?

Xie: The devel­op­ment of Pudong is a suc­cess­ful ex­am­ple for China’s re­form and open­ing up. To­day, Pudong has proved the sig­nif­i­cance of China’s re­form and open­ing up and that China has taken the right his­toric path to merge with the world econ­omy. Back then, Deng Xiaop­ing re­quired Shang­hai to carry the torch to an even more open China. Thanks to its open­ing up, Pudong’s GDP soared from six bil­lion yuan in 1990 to an ex­pected fig­ure of one tril­lion yuan in 2018, an in­crease of around 160-fold. It is fair to say open­ing up is em­bed­ded in Pudong’s DNA. Th­ese days, the anti-glob­al­iza­tion trend is pop­u­lar glob­ally. I be­lieve that as a role model, Pudong pro­vides sig­nif­i­cant ref­er­ences for other coun­tries and re­gions, es­pe­cially for the eco­nomic and so­cial devel­op­ment of coun­tries and re­gions along the Belt and Road.

Pudong also gives China con­fi­dence be­cause it makes clear that the na­tion has taken the right path since the be­gin­ning of its re­form and open­ing up in the late 1970s. To­day, when for­eign­ers say that the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive won’t be re­al­ized, I point to Pudong and its high-de­gree in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and ur­ban­iza­tion that took de­vel­oped Euro­pean coun­tries two cen­turies to achieve. Just as Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping put it, the CPC and the Chi­nese peo­ple now have the con­fi­dence to pro­vide Chi­nese so­lu­tions for hu­man ex­plo­ration of bet­ter so­cial sys­tems.

Xie Guop­ing re­searches and sur­veys Pudong from a his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive. by Qiao Zhenqi

Dul­wich Col­lege Shang­hai Pudong, an in­ter­na­tional school lo­cated in Pudong. To pro­vide a bet­ter liv­ing en­vi­ron­ment for for­eign ex­ec­u­tives, the Biyun in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity in Pudong con­structed sev­eral in­ter­na­tional schools for ex­pat kids. cour­tesy of Pudong New Area In­for­ma­tion Of­fice

The Lin­gang pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle base un­der SAIC Motors. Au­to­mo­bile man­u­fac­tur­ing is a pil­lar in­dus­try of Shang­hai. by Wu Hui­quan

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.