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October 9, 2010

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Shipbuilding goes full steam ahead

By 2020, Changxing Island hopes to be home to one of the most advanced shipbuilding and marine technology production centers in the world, writes Victoria Fei.

While Chongming Island is making great efforts to develop its tourism industry and position itself as an eco-island, Changxing Island of the same Chongming County hopes to become a world-class center for shipbuilding and the marine equipment industry with the development of the Changxing Marine Equipment Industrial Park.

Only a 10-minute drive from Pudong, the industrial park is situated on Changxing Island between Pudong Waigaoqiao to the south and Chongming Island in the north, with the recreational eco-resort of Hengsha Island in the east and Qingcaosha Reservoir, Shanghai's largest source of drinking water, in the northwest.

The island has excellent geographical conditions, natural resources and a unique climate. With a long coastline and fine harbor, Changxing Island can accommodate vessels of up to 300,000 tons.

Under the 11th Five-Year Plan, an economic development initiative, Shanghai aims to build an international shipping center, which will help shipbuilding and marine engineering become key industries in Shanghai.

The city government approved the Changxing Marine Equipment Industrial Park in April 2007 to help achieve this goal.

Covering an area of 713 hectares, the industial park has the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation and Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industry Co Ltd, both giants in the shipbuilding field, as its neighbors.

"In 2008, the shipbuilding industry was hit by economic crisis," said Zhou Wenzhong, president of Shanghai Changxing Marine Equipment Industry Development Co Ltd. "Supporting facilities were then added to the plans for the park, distinguishing it from similar ones in downtown Shanghai and the north of Jiangsu Province."

"Our current long-term strategy is precise and unhasty, aiming to attract high-end investment."

Ten businesses have already been drawn to the area. Four of them will go into operation this year. With a total fixed asset investment of 540 million yuan (US$80.7million), they will have 800 employees.

The other six enterprises will start operation next year, providing employment for a further 2,500 local people.

Zhou said the park is also planning to attract a further six to eight businesses this year.

"It is not so easy to attract overseas investment," he explains. "They are more willing to rent than to buy and build factories. Some might be afraid that their technology will be copied by local enterprises."

Zhou is well aware of how important the industrial park is.

"Asia possesses the longest continental coastline (69,900km) in the world, and three major shipbuilding bases - China, South Korea and Japan," Zhou said. "As the fastest-growing shipbuilding country, China also has to focus on establishing modern shipbuilding assembly bases to improve its industrial cluster effect."

To become a world-class industry cluster - a geographic concentration of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions - for shipbuilding and marine engineering, the park also has facilities for education and training, finance, accreditation and logistics.

There will be areas aimed at developing equipment that supports shipbuilding enterprises, such as electromechanics, communications and navigation, and automation, which all feature the use of high technology.

It is hoped these high-tech enterprises will establish the park as a leading high-tech shipbuilding and marine engineering equipment production base.

Maintaining the area's environmental protection strategy, all facilities are built with the idea of health, comfort and engergy-saving. The park has actually made great efforts to upgrade its facilities with green concepts.

According to Zhou, the notion of "life before work" is behind the set-up of integrated public services for a central business district, where offices, hotels and greenbelt areas are provided to support an efficient production and management of enterprises.

"The core of the future development of Changxing Island is for the industrial park to center on high-tech shipbuilding and the marine engineering equipment industry, and to develop at the same pace as other advanced manufacturing and production service industries," Zhou said.

"Hukou (household registration), human resources and land policies will be provided to attract qualified personnel to work in Chongming. By 2020, when Metro Line 19 connects the tunnel-bridge with Pudong New Area, a qualified workforce is expected to engage in developing the area."

By 2020, the park will be home to a marine equipment industry integrating science and technology, research and development, manufacture and service - all in the hope of it becoming an innovative base for shipbuilding and marine equipment construction for China and the world.


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