My Pudong Story

At the crit­i­cal time of na­tional devel­op­ment, only re­form can boost mo­men­tum. And re­form must fit the global trend.

China Pictorial (English) - - NEWS - Text by Zhou Han­min

Po­si­tion­ing: Set in Shang­hai, Face the World

In July 1987, Pro­fes­sor TungYen Lin, a Chi­nese-amer­i­can struc­tural en­gi­neer based in San Fran­cisco, wrote a long let­ter to Jiang Zemin, then mem­ber of the Po­lit­i­cal Bu­reau of the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) and Shang­hai mu­nic­i­pal Party sec­re­tary, propos­ing to de­velop and open up Pudong and elab­o­rat­ing on the ben­e­fits of such open­ness in Shang­hai to face the world. Jiang care­fully ex­am­ined his pro­posal and des­ig­nated a spe­cial group to con­duct re­search on Pudong’s devel­op­ment and open­ing up. This group com­prised ex­perts from rel­e­vant fields. At that time, I had just earned my mas­ter’s de­gree from the In­ter­na­tional Eco­nomic Law Depart­ment at Shang­hai In­sti­tute of For­eign Trade (to­day’s Shang­hai Uni­ver­sity of In­ter­na­tional Busi­ness and Eco­nomics) and was stay­ing on there as a teacher. Thanks to my English-lan­guage skills and ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in an Amer­i­can law firm, I was lucky enough to be re­cruited into the team.

The pri­mary task of this group was to study the po­si­tion­ing of the Pudong area. For ex­am­ple, we had to de­cide whether to se­lect just one cor­ner of Pudong as a pilot or use the en­tire area as the test field. We re­searched whether it would be bet­ter to open up a few sec­tors first or ev­ery in­dus­try at once. Ev­ery­thing started from scratch for us—all of the mem­bers of the group were part-time and worked in a tem­po­rary of­fice thrown to­gether in one of the cor­ru­gated iron sheds next to the Shang­hai mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment build­ing. But we had a strong sense of his­toric mis­sion and re­spon­si­bil­ity, which in­spired us to stay fully and pas­sion­ately en­gaged. At that time, we did not have much do­mes­tic ex­pe­ri­ence to draw from, so the in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence from Pro­fes­sor Tung-yen Lin and some of his friends was par­tic­u­larly valu­able.

The group be­lieved that the devel­op­ment and open­ing up of Pudong should be an­chored in Shang­hai but em­brace the world with an eye on mod­ern­iza­tion, IT ap­pli­ica­tion, rule of law and mar­ket-ori- en­ta­tion. The team pro­posed that the new area fea­ture “small gov­ern­ment (con­cise and ef­fi­cient t

ad­min­is­tra­tion), big so­ci­ety (so­ci­ety and mar­ket play ma­jor roles) and many en­ter­prises (both do­mes­tic and for­eign busi­ness stand­outs)” and that the devel­op­ment and open­ing up of Pudong start from one sec­tor be­fore grad­u­ally spread­ing through the whole area. My duty back then was to in­ves­ti­gate ex­actly how open the new area should be and how to leg­is­late it. At the time, China al­ready had four spe­cial eco­nomic zones fea­tur­ing many mea­sures of re­form and open­ing up. Al­though Hainan Prov­ince was not yet a spe­cial eco­nomic zone, it had al­ready re­leased at least 30 poli­cies re­lated to open­ing up. So we also went to Hainan to learn. In gen­eral, do­mes­ti­cally, we stud­ied spe­cial eco­nomic zones, while in­ter­na­tion­ally we sought to re­store Shang­hai’s for­mer rep­u­ta­tion as “Paris of the Far East.”

Leg­is­la­tion: To Pro­tect and Im­prove

Rule of law was al­ways the foun­da­tion of Pudong’s devel­op­ment and open­ing up. In early July 1990, China’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment dis­patched a del­e­ga­tion of Chi­nese may­ors headed by a min­is­te­rial-level of­fi­cial to the United States, ac­com­pa­nied by five lo­cal Shang­hai schol­ars. Again, I was for­tu­nate to be among them and tasked with study­ing leg­is­la­tion and the ex­tent of Pudong’s open­ness.

On April 18, 1990, then Chi­nese Premier Li Peng for­mally an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of Pudong New Area. Our del­e­ga­tion set off on July 7 and ar­rived in New York City first, where we held a sym­po­sium. At the event, an Amer­i­can re­porter doubted whether Pudong’s 10 pref­er­en­tial poli­cies that only fit in a cor­ner news­pa­per col­umn could pro­mote its open­ness. And for­eign en­ter­prises would dare not ven­ture there with­out le­gal guar­an­tees. Zhu Rongji, then mayor of Shang­hai (later Chi­nese Premier) re­sponded with a res­o­lute and de­ci­sive an­swer: “We will def­i­nitely pass laws to pro­tect the progress of Pudong’s open­ing up as well as the in­ter­ests of for­eign in­vestors.” As soon as he re­turned to Shang­hai in late July, Zhu be­gan to ac­cel­er­ate Pudong’s leg­isla­tive work. To en­able over­seas in­vestors to grasp the essence of laws from the out­set, the laws that were passed were re­quired to be pub­lished in Chi­nese, English and Ja­panese.

I was cho­sen as a mem­ber of the leg­is­la­tion team and later, the fi­nal­izer of the English ver­sion of the law. That sum­mer, we slogged long days at work in the rooms of Chun­shen­jiang Ho­tel. When I was knee-deep in leg­isla­tive work, I al­ways kept two words in my mind: pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion, which I felt rep­re­sented the main func­tion of the law.

Re­form: Fit­ting World Trends

With Pudong’s devel­op­ment and open­ing up on the right track, our group was dis­missed when other or­gans had a han­dle on pro­mot­ing the new area’s devel­op­ment with

sub­stan­tial mea­sures. By 2000 af­ter the com­ple­tion of sev­eral tri­als, it was clear that sys­tem, mech­a­nism and rule of law should be ad­vanced side by side in Pudong. And we knew that run­ning the devel­op­ment zone with an ad­min­is­tra­tive com­mit­tee might work well for a time, but would not last long. So Pudong needed to set up a gov­ern­ing body.

In Au­gust 2000, the gov­ern­ment of Pudong New Area was es­tab­lished. While I was vice pres­i­dent of Shang­hai In­sti­tute of For­eign Trade, I was re­cruited to serve as deputy chief of Pudong New Area. I was sur­prised and wor­ried be­cause even though I was do­ing well at my po­si­tion and had achieved some aca­demic ac­co­lades, I didn’t think I was qual­i­fied to serve as deputy chief of Pudong New Area. Such a post seemed way too chal­leng­ing.

Still I agreed to step up and ac­cept the chal­lenge. At that time, I was the only of­fi­cial with­out party af­fil­i­a­tion (I later joined the China Na­tional Demo­cratic Con­struc­tion As­so­ci­a­tion) in the gov­ern­ment of Pudong New Area. But my col­leagues gave me great sup­port and trust all the same. I was in charge of three sec­tors: Lu­ji­azui, which is now an icon of China’s mod­ern­iza­tion, re­form and open­ing up; Waigao­qiao bonded area, which is cur­rently an im­por­tant part of China (Shang­hai) Pilot Free Trade Zone; and the so­cial devel­op­ment bu­reau, which cov­ered sec­tors in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, pub­lic health, civil af­fairs and sports. My sec­re­tary man­aged 27 fil­ing cab­i­nets for each of my du­ties.

I sum­ma­rized Pudong’s main work back then in four words: leg­is­la­tion, plan­ning, high-cal­iber pro­fes­sion­als and cap­i­tal. Since 1992, Shang­hai pre­sented a plan to be­come the eco­nomic, fi­nan­cial

and trade cen­ter of the coun­try. In 1998, a ship­ping cen­ter was added to the wish list, and Shang­hai is now poised to reach this goal by 2020. The CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee de­manded that Shang­hai be­come a pi­o­neer of the mar­ket econ­omy, sus­tain­able devel­op­ment and rule of law. In the new era, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping also hopes that Shang­hai con­tin­ues car­ry­ing the torch of China’s re­form and open­ing up and serv­ing as a bell­wether of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment. I think th­ese are very im­por­tant for the po­si­tion­ing of Shang­hai.

At this crit­i­cal stage of na­tional devel­op­ment, only re­form can fur­ther boost mo­men­tum. And the re­form has to fit the global trend. The ef­fects of Pudong’s devel­op­ment and open­ing up were, in short, re­liev­ing the pres­sure im­posed by Western coun­tries headed by the United States at the time, build­ing up the con­fi­dence of the Chi­nese peo­ple, set­ting a model for China’s re­form and open­ing up and mak­ing prepa­ra­tion for China’s en­try into the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WTO). We need re­form, and our re­form is on­go­ing and un­end­ing. Re­form refers not only to stream­lin­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive or­gans but also seiz­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties that our pre­de­ces­sors missed.

Pudong’s ex­pe­ri­ence shows us no great achieve­ments are easy and re­form re­quires con­certed ef­forts, courage, pas­sion and de­ter­mi­na­tion. With the love for our coun­try and peo­ple, we can make any­thing pos­si­ble. The au­thor is a mem­ber of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence (CPPCC), China’s top po­lit­i­cal ad­vi­sory body, vice chair­man of the CPPCC Shang­hai Com­mit­tee and vice chair­man of the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of China Na­tional Demo­cratic Con­struc­tion As­so­ci­a­tion.

One of China’s most in­flu­en­tial fi­nan­cial cen­ters, Shang­hai’s Lu­ji­azui houses head­quar­ters of many multi­na­tional banks’ Chi­nese and East Asian branches. It is also an icon of China’s mod­ern­iza­tion, re­form and open­ing up. by Xu Wan­glin

Thanks to the area’s cul­tural and creative re­sources, the book­store in Zhangjiang Sci­ence City has be­come a cul­tural land­mark of Shang­hai’s Zhangjiang Hi-tech Park. by Qiao Zhenqi

The fourth phase of Shang­hai’s Yang­shan Deep-wa­ter Port is the world’s largest un­manned con­tainer ter­mi­nal, with the high­est de­gree of au­toma­tion. by Qiao Zhenqi

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