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Knowledge the key for Yangpu

YANGPU District, located at Shanghai's northeast, is famous for its abundance of cultural and educational resources featuring century-old universities and industrial development.

It is also home to the oldest waterworks, the first power plant and the earliest machine weaving factory in China.

As the district has been making efforts to turn its orientation from traditional industry to knowledge and innovation in recent years, it is now endeavoring to become an innovation-driven region.

Yangpu people, hardworking and cultured, have their own understanding of "Better City, Better Life," the theme of World Expo 2010 Shanghai. To welcome the Expo, the local government sets the theme of "Knowledge-based Yangpu, Green Home."

Green is a color symbolizing life and civilization. The district is building itself into a green hometown with green communities, green industries, green ecology and green culture.

Take Huangxing Park, which covers an area of 62 hectares, for example. Lawns, lakes, bridges, pavilions and small hills offer tranquility and peace for local people when they enjoy a stroll.

Springs Square, developed by US construction giant Tishman Speyer, can hold 80,000 to 100,000 residents and business people. The project integrates ecology with industry, science, education and accommodation.

But New Jiangwan City is perhaps the one most worthy of mention.

It boasts an original wetland more than 200 species of plants and animals.

The area is also where the new campus of Fudan University, a central park, a natural garden, an urban village and knowledge-based business zones are located. Almost all elements contribute to a green, ecological and environmentally friendly community.

Taking the opportunity of the Expo, the district has made great progress in urban construction, development and management. However, as a district with history, its mission of renovation takes time.

Currently, there are old residential areas of more than 1.4 million square meters to be renovated. The district has dismantled old houses of 760,000 square meters and a total of 24,000 families have been relocated.

In a joint effort with Siemens, advanced concepts, technologies and materials leading the world will be applied at the existing communities in the district. It is in a bid to make them more sophisticated and environmentally friendly.

The local government is also planning to build its Bund area into the "Water Gate of World Expo." Green and cultural concepts will be injected, making it an area suitable for sightseeing and entertainment. In addition, from the "water gate," visitors to the Expo can take boats to enter the Expo Shanghai site.

Yangpu District's century-old industrial culture is actually centralized at its Bund area, where Shanghai Yangshupu Waterworks is located.

Built in 1883 by British investors, it now belongs to Shanghai Shibei Water Co. A British architect, JW Hart, designed the factory. It now occupies an area of 12.9 hectares and it used to reach over 25.9 hectares during the 1930s. Being the first modern waterworks in China, it was also the biggest in the Far East region at that time.

Yangshupu Waterworks is still working. Now it supplies over 400 million cubic meters of water every year, which is about 20 percent of the total water supply in Shanghai.

Despite the addition of modern and advanced elements, the waterworks still maintains much of the original appearance it had 126 years ago - most factory buildings, including workshops and administrative buildings, are built in the style of British castles.

Main walls are made of plain bricks and decorated with red ones, and roofs are built with crenelations.

With the addition of various patterns, the whole waterworks looks just like a British castle from the Middle Ages - it's also the only group of buildings of such style in Shanghai.

At Wujiaochang, a few buildings during the Republic of China period are well preserved. The City Hall of old Shanghai, built in 1933, is a highlight.

It is designed in the palace style of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). With a building area of 9,000 square meters, it boasts a square which can hold 100,000 people.

Wujiaochang area nowadays is more eye-catching, as it features a Knowledge and Innovation Community, which is clustered with creative industry studios; Fudan University and international institutions, such as UN-assisted South-South Global Assets and Technology Exchange (SS-GATE) and Silicon Valley Bank.

Less than a year ago, the district became host of SS-GATE, which explores ways of increasing the flow of technologies and finance in addition to the existing technology shows, exhibitions and development cooperations.

SS-GATE was put into operation last December, aiming to help developing countries address such issues as the lack of finance for development and no access to technology and investment, establishing virtual and physical venues where entrepreneurs, civil society organizations and local governments in developing countries can interact and obtain the necessary technology, assets and finance in a secure environment.

SS-GATE is a pioneering project and it is starting relatively small so that the concept can be tested and refined and can build on its growing expertise.

So far there have been nearly 1,000 listed programs at SS-GATE and materialized programs worth US$100 million.

Chen Anjie, Party secretary of Yangpu District, says that this achievement, against the backdrop of the current global financial crisis, was really remarkable.

At present, SS-GATE has 18 work stations and plans to increase that to 30 this year and up to 100 in two to three years, Chen says.

"With one work station for each country, SS-GATE builds the platform where we can learn from other developing countries and help secure the flow of technology from developed countries to developing nations," Chen says.

"It also brings talent and funds into Yangpu and helps promote the development of our local economy," Chen says.

"That's why we attach great importance to it."


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