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Locals want to keep their peach trees

Merging Nanhui District into Pudong New Area is aimed at creating a larger powerhouse to spur Shanghai's economic growth but there may be many changes for the people of Nanhui.

The biggest benefit for the more than 743,100 residents in Nanhui could be wages.

In Pudong, the minimum salary is 1,060 yuan (US$155) per month, compared with 980 yuan in Nanhui.

Nanhui residents are also expected to be given access to education, health care and other social resources in Pudong.

"(The merger) will help accelerate the urbanization process of Shanghai" to create more favorable living conditions, said Ren Xianzheng, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Shanghai Committee, who proposed the merger to the city government in January.

But some Nanhui residents are concerned about possible higher living costs.

Party Yan, a 22-year-old student from Nanhui's Xuanqiao town, said her parents were wondering whether their public utility bills would increase in line with those of Pudong.

Households in the city's fringes are entitled to a lower public utility rates, including water and electricity. For instance, water in Nanhui costs 1.76 yuan per cubic meter, compared with 1.93 yuan in Pudong and other downtown districts.

"There are many stories of future water fees going around the neighborhoods these days, too many for most people to follow," Yan said.

Officials with Pudong's reform and development commission, the district's public utility fare coordination body, were not available for comment yesterday.

Peaches, which Nanhui is famous for, might be another nagging topic for natives of the disappearing district.

Since 1991, Nanhui has been holding a peach blossom festival, which has been a magnet for tourists every Spring.

Festival organizers changed the event's name from "Nanhui Peach Blossom Festival" to "Shanghai Peach Blossom Festival" seven years ago.

"No matter what the administrative region is called, I'll always introduce myself as a Nanhui native," Yan said.


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