Watertown project to become showcase for integrated development
Spring scenery photographed in a village in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Driving on the scenic National Highway G318 from downtown Shanghai westward for an hour and a half, one will see swathes of paddy fields, fish ponds and watertowns built along small rivers on the vast plain of the Yangtze River Delta.
This is Jiangnan, literally south of the river. Associated with abundance and affluence, the term has been used since ancient times to describe the delta, which comprises Shanghai municipality and Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.
At the border of Shanghai and its neighbors, a huge project called "Watertown Living Room" started construction on Saturday.
The aim of the project is building a "show house" to mark the second anniversary of the Yangtze River Delta's demonstration zone for integration and green development.
The integration of the Yangtze River Delta was elevated to a national strategy by the State Council in 2018, and the demonstration zone was established in November 2019.
Zhu Yiyuan, general manager of New Development Company of Yangtze River Delta Integration, said, "We will dredge the rivers and connect those once blocked waterways into a 'blue loop' around the Watertown Living Room area, linking different scenic and cultural sites."
Besides the dredging, eight sub-projects also started construction in the area on Saturday, including waterfront greenery along the "blue loop" and three new roads to break dead ends on the borders.
In terms of industrial innovation, a new research and development center for semiconductors will be built, and two existing science and technology parks will be upgraded.
Zhang Zhongwei, deputy director of the executive committee of the demonstration zone, said the construction of the Watertown Living Room will prompt the creation of more innovative policies for cross-provincial coordination.
Earlier this month, the committee published a guideline on planning and construction in the demonstration zone, setting out a unified reference for environmental protection, architecture and the construction of transport facilities.
"Though the Watertown Living Room straddles different administrations, we want the development to follow one blueprint, by one major developer, and under one set of high-quality standards," Zhang said.
Gao Ping, deputy director of the Shanghai ZhongChuang Institute for Industry & Innovation, a think tank focusing on regional development, said China's regional development often faces obstacles brought about by the separation of different administrative bodies.
"The goal for the demonstration zone is to find a path to institutional innovation through coordination in concrete projects," he said, adding that many good practices in the integration of the Yangtze River Delta have been adopted in other regions, such as the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area.