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Pudong District: Masterpiece of Deng's Opening Thoughts

Shen Ruqun, now in his seventies and retired from Shanghai Pudong Bus Company, has participated in designing and producing ten editions of a map of Pudong District during the past 14 years. He is thus considered a "living map" of the area.

However, Shen said he might lose his way on the street if he stayed home for several weeks, because the "changing pace of Pudong is much faster than the updates on the maps."

"Roads are growing wider and wider, and rows upon rows of modern buildings are mushrooming on the previous shabby residential area -- Pudong District has successfully made itself a world-class financial center from a poverty-stricken backward countryside within just 14 years," Shen said.

Pudong on the eastern bank of the Huangpu River which cuts the metropolis into two was known as the Pudong New Area when large-scale development began 14 years ago.

The epitome of the modernization construction in Shanghai and symbol of China's reform and opening up policy, Pudong District has rapidly achieved what Western countries have done in more than100 years' efforts.

The retiree said "Pudong could never thrive like this without China's ever greatest reformist, Deng Xiaoping."

When China's four special economic zones -- Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou and Xiamen enjoyed rapid development in the 1980s, Shanghai boggled itself in slowness and hesitation.

Deng said it was "a big mistake" of his that he did not add Shanghai into the opening list for the first batch.

Spending the 1990's Spring Festival in Shanghai, Deng was thinking of developing Pudong District as a further promotion of the reform and opening up policy.

"Shanghai is a trump card in China's modernization construction and it is necessary to make it more open," said Deng.

On Feb. 18, 1991, about one year after the central government's decision of Pudong development, Deng saw the designed map and the construction models of the new Pudong District when he visited Shanghai again.

He said to Mayor Zhu Rongji, who became China's premier several years later, that the development of Pudong was crucial to the future progress of the entire Shanghai, and even to the Yangtze River Delta.

"Nothing should affect the development in the district," Deng said. "We should develop it with fresher thoughts and at a faster speed."

Today Pudong District has taken on a prosperous look and attracts an increasing number of tourists from both at home and abroad, said Yao Jianliang, a staff member of Shanghai Lujiazui Group.

In the past, people could only cross the Huangpu River by ferryboat, but now six bridges and five tunnels have been built, connecting Shanghai's most flourishing western district with Pudong.

Yao said Pudong District was admitted to be the best stage for investment and carving out a new business.

Investors and specialists from both at home and abroad come to Shanghai every year, filling Pudong with more than 300,000 people of higher learning now. There are 40 international communities in the new district, with over 20,000 foreigners.

Covering one twelfth of Shanghai's total area, Pudong District contributes one quarter of the municipality's GDP and more than half of its foreign trade each year.

Last year, Pudong achieved a GDP of 150.4 billion yuan (US$18.2), 25 times that in 1990 when development just began.

Yao, a native of Pudong, has used more than 3000 rolls of film to take 100,000 pictures in the past 14 years, recording the sharp changes of his hometown.

There was an old-time saying among Shanghai residents that "they would just want a bed in the old western area of the city rather than take a house in Pudong." But today one house out of four sold is in Pudong.

"I am proud to be a Pudong resident," Yao said. "We must express our deepest gratitude toward Deng Xiaoping. Hopefully my pictures could rest him in peace."

(Xinhua News Agency August 17, 2004)

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