Twenty years' development of Pudong, Shanghai, China

Aug. 17, 2010 5:01 AM ET
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The Pudong New Area is a symbol of China's reform and opening-up.

TWENTY years ago tomorrow, China proclaimed the development and opening-up of Shanghai's Pudong, then vast stretches of farmland and villages.

Today, the Pudong New Area is a forest of high-rises, a center of finance and possibilities and the symbol of China's reform and opening-up.

Even Disneyland is coming.

The place where the Yangtze River meets the sea is sometimes called the miniature of modern construction in Shanghai.

On April 18, 1990, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council announced the opening-up of Pudong, today called the Pudong New Area.

In the past two decades, Pudong accelerated its reform and development — and established a model of seaport industry development by combining international thinking and local characteristics.

The dramatic change of the Pudong New Area can be seen not only in its spectacular appearance and financial industry, but also in the lives of ordinary people.

Ten years ago, life was not that convenient. I often envied my colleagues in Puxi who could go shopping so easily.

Sun Shengnan,

46, female, civil servant

Sun was born in a small rural village in Pudong. Puxi, on the other side of the Huangpu River, was too far away back then.

"I would be so excited if my parents took me to Puxi," she recalls.

At that time, it took almost half a day to get from Pudong to Puxi.

"I had to walk 20 minutes to the bus station, where there was only one bus that connected with the ferry to Puxi," she says.

The bus took an hour, the ferry took another an hour, and then she took another bus to her destination in Puxi.

Today's modern transport has shortened the time sharply. "There are more buses and subways," she says. "It may take only half an hour to get to Puxi."

Sun also sees a "green Pudong" in the former rural area.

There's a big park near her home in Jinqiao, where she often takes a walk after dinner.

"I enjoy my life pretty much thanks to the reform and opening-up of Pudong," she says.

At that time, my annual income was only several thousand yuan, but now I earn several hundred thousand yuan a year.

Rojanee Lelakul

36, female, corporate executive

Ten years ago, when Lelakul first arrived in Shanghai from Bangkok, she saw only the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and open land. There were no other tall buildings.

Lelakul is assistant vice president at Lotus Supercenter and since 2000 she has lived in the 22-story Haifu Garden community at Yanggao and Lancun roads.

"The changes over the past 10 years have been very dramatic. My apartment building was literally the only one in the area when I first moved in, but you can see all kinds of tall buildings in every corner of the area now," says Lelakul. "It has been changing all the time and suddenly accelerated after 2007."

Lelakul enjoys the increasingly more convenient life in Pudong with modern facilities — nice restaurants, tall office buildings, luxurious bars, spas and other venues.

"It has also got cleaner and more organized as it gets close to the upcoming World Expo 2010 Shanghai," she says.

I enjoy my life pretty much thanks to the reform and opening-up of Pudong.

Christine Wu

35, female, white-collar worker

Wu is known as "New Shanghainese," referring to those out-of-towners who have made the city their home.

Born in Hefei, Anhui Province, Wu was drawn to the glamor of Shanghai and decided to go to Shanghai University.

"At that time, I wanted to settle down with my boyfriend, so we bought a small apartment in Pudong, since the price was lower than in Puxi," she says.

Wu is now pregnant and says she is satisfied with her life.

"Ten years ago, life was not that convenient," she says. "I often envied my colleagues in Puxi who could go shopping so easily, but there were few big shopping malls in Pudong."

Today Wu is proud that Pudong is in no way inferior to Puxi in terms of fashion and trendy living.

"I don't have to cross the Huangpu River for something special," she says.

The only thing that troubles her is the rising property price in the Pudong New Area.

"Because of the coming baby, I want to purchase a bigger apartment so my parents can live with us," she says. "But that' really hard to achieve."

My apartment building was literally the only one in the area when I first moved in, but you can see all kinds of tall buildings in every corner of the area now."

Gu Dan

37, male, owner of a vegetable and fruit production base

Gu used to be a farmer working in a small factory and tending a small vegetable plot ofter work.

"At that time, my annual income was only several thousand yuan," he recalls. "But now I earn several hundred thousand yuan a year."

Gu has built a two-story, 200-square-meter home where he lives with his wife and 12-year-old daughter.

"I have really benefited from China's policy of opening up Pudong."

He has great expectations for his daughter's future. "She is playing the cello, which was my dream when I was young. Maybe she can become a musician some day. Who knows?"How it happened

April 18, 1990

Li Peng, then premier of China, announced Pudong development strategies by the Communist Party of China and the State Council. He spoke at the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Shanghai Volkswagen Automotive joint venture.

May 3, 1991

Thousands of Pudong residents gathered at 141 Pudong Avenue for the opening ceremony of the Pudong Development Office and Pudong Planning and Design Research Institute.

December 20, 1995

Shanghai Nextage Department Store, China's first joint-venture large commercial retail corporation with Japan, opened. It drew 1.07 million customers in the opening day.

December 19, 1997

The Shanghai Stock Exchange was moved to a new venue in Pudong.

June 21, 2005

Premier Wen Jiabao organized a State Council meeting and approved the proposal of applying integration and reform in Pudong. Since then, various new ideas and practices in Pudong's development were promoted nationwide.

August 10, 2005

The Shanghai headquarters of the People's Bank of China opened, marking a milestone on Shanghai's road to becoming an international financial center.

October 26, 2006

Pudong was selected in the first group of national civilization districts.

March 25, 2009

Shanghai's long-standing proposals to build the international financial center and shipping center were approved by the State Council.

April 2009

Chen Qiwei, spokesman for the Shanghai Municipal Government, said State Council had approved merging Nanhui District into Pudong.

November 23, 2009

The State Development and Reform Commission announced on its official Website that Shanghai Disneyland project would be built in Chuansha New Town of the Pudong New Area.

March 22, 2010

Construction began on the south section of Metro Line 11 in Lingang New Town.

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