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October 20, 2019

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Grow with Shanghai for a brighter future

The International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council (IBLAC) has been functioning successfully and effectively for the Mayor of Shanghai over the past 30 consecutive years, and this is the 31st IBLAC forum. I am very much honored and privileged for having been invited to attend such prestigious more than 20 times. I am indeed privileged taking part in this series of meetings participated in by esteemed and widely respected individuals who have been pro-actively formulating and presenting recommendations aimed at resolving a host of challenges facing Shanghai. Over the past 30 years, Shanghai has continuously learned from the best international practices, enabling the city to achieve dramatic growth through constant self-improvement.

When I first attended the 9th IBLAC forum in 1997, I remember the theme for that year was “Overview of the overall development in the 21st century.” As guest speaker, I expounded on the subject of “Urban Planning for Shanghai — Hong Kong’s Experience.” At the time, Shanghai was at the initial stage of emerging as an international commercial and financial center, and it subsequently achieved robust economic growth, as well as a host of improvements in its landscape and transportation infrastructure.

However, Shanghai back then lacked sound urban planning which would incorporate and integrate pressing needs of all members of society. Thus, I proposed for Shanghai to learn from the experience of Hong Kong and other global cities so it could improve its overall urban planning and expand its business district in order to accelerate the ascension of Shanghai into a global city. Against the backdrop of “Shanghai’s transformation from an industrial economy into a service hub that will serve as the city’s linchpin for it to attain the status of a future international economic, financial and trade center,” I recommended in my speech a development blueprint for the reconstruction of the Shanghai Taipingqiao District.

Urban innovation

I was very pleased to see the “Taipingqiao Reconstruction Plan” getting the approval of the leaders of the Shanghai Municipal Government. The first project under the Taipingqiao Reconstruction Plan — “Shanghai Xintiandi” — officially kicked off in 1999. Shanghai Xintiandi is where the farewell dinner and side events of the 13th IBLAC forum were held in 2001. The development scheme enabled international business leaders from different parts of the world to experience the unique culture and development pulse of Shanghai. “Shanghai Xintiandi,” which injected vitality to modern life and contemporary civilization with historic architecture, specifically Shikumen, marks a milestone that heralds the new phase of Shanghai’s urban renovation and it provides a successful case of a city’s renovation paving the way for China’s urbanization. It has indelibly emerged as Shanghai’s icon, as well as one of the world’s top 20 cultural landmark.

As the turn of the century in 2000 amid accelerated construction of urban infrastructures, Shanghai set the strategic goal of establishing a modernized urban management system that will put it at par or on equal footing global cities. Shanghai slowly but steadily emerged into an international economic, financial, trade and shipping center.

At the 14th IBLAC in 2002 with the theme of “Building a world-class city by pooling the wisdom of experts,” I delivered a speech entitled “Improving the Quality of Shanghai Citizens as Quickly as Possible.”

At the forum, I played a video which I took and produced myself, showing different types of uncivilized behavior of certain Shanghai citizens. The unruly behavior included pedestrians who engaged in jaywalking while the red street overhead light was blinking. In a subway station, large crowds of people jostled against each other with no regard for politeness. I compared such unruly behavior of certain Shanghai residents with the civilized conduct of citizens in Tokyo and Paris. I believe that an international metropolis must be underpinned and supported by civilized urban culture that should match its international stature. My short video created considerable stir not only at the forum, but across Shanghai as well. Reflective Shanghai citizens did not deny problems in their community, the recognition of these problems initiated animated public discussions on “How to be a lovable Shanghainese,” which aimed to promote the quality of Shanghai citizens and the overall improvement of the level of Shanghai’s urban management.

With the emergence and rise of a new round of global technological revolution and industrial transformation, competition among different economies in the international arena has become more intense against the frenetic race for greater technological innovation. To fully implement the new aspiration of the central government for Shanghai to accelerate its advance towards attaining a global status as an influential science and technology innovation center across the world, the Shanghai Municipal Government proposed in 2015 that by 2020, Shanghai has to establish a basic framework for it to attain the international stature of a global science and technology innovation center.

In 2015, I presented to the IBLAC Committee a report entitled “Creating a new ecological environment for innovation and entrepreneurship — the experience from Knowledge and Innovation Community.”

The report outlined how we adopted the world’s cutting-edge development pattern of knowledge communities, how we provided top-notch services and facilities, and how we built a first-class working and living community for innovators and entrepreneurs. The report presented proposals on how to optimize the environment for innovation and entrepreneurship, including the creation of more technological activity carriers and enterprise clusters. Innovation is a key factor for future development, and we hope to draw more experience from the management model, innovative ideas and outstanding sense of entrepreneurship of IBLAC member companies in order to press forward the construction of Shanghai as a science and technology innovation center.

And by 2030, Shanghai has to be equipped with vital key functions of a technological innovation center, and it should also embark on a new path of innovation-driven development with the characteristics of the new era.

For over 30 years, IBLAC has built a solid think tank advisory platform to help and bolster Shanghai’s development. Themes discussed in each IBLAC forum are associated with Shanghai’s urban development planning and economic growth. Furthermore, discussions and recommendations made in each meeting have been implemented under Shanghai’s “Five-year Plans,” thus facilitating and providing substantial contributions to Shanghai’s economic and social development and growing international influence. Shanghai, a great city well noted for its inclusivity, excellence, openness and modesty, is bursting with energy and vitality. We have full confidence in the future. I will continue to do everything I can to formulate and provide vital suggestions for Shanghai’s further and holistic development. I believe Shanghai will continue to go beyond and surpass its limitations even as it raises to global standards its functionalities as well as core competitiveness so it will emerge sooner than later as a global city of excellence. As international business leaders from across the world offer their support to Shanghai during the forum, our city will certainly address and successfully resolve all difficulties and challenges ahead, and speed up even further its toward its goal of being recognized as a world-class city with excellence as its widely-recognized hallmark.

Wish Shanghai a brighter future!


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