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15b yuan bank loan set to fuel development of city island

A GROUP of seven Chinese banks yesterday granted a 15 billion yuan (US$2.2 billion) joint loan to help complete major industrial and environmental projects on Shanghai's Changxing Island.

The money will be used by the government to partially fund a 150 billion yuan campaign over the next 10 years to expand the island's road network and ocean machinery and port industry, build public service facilities and upgrade environmental protection.

The second-biggest of Shanghai's three islands, Changxing sits near the mouth of the Yangtze River and is administered by Chongming County, whose gross domestic product totaled 13.77 billion yuan in 2008 - less than the loan amount.

Changxing covers a land area of 93.3 square kilometers and also encompasses the 67.3-square-kilometer future site of the Qingcaosha Reservoir, which will become Shanghai's biggest tap-water repository. The reservoir is being built in the river next to the island and will provide better-quality tap water for 10 million Shanghai residents after its completion next year.

In announcing the loan, the Changxing Island Development Office did not say where it would get the rest of the funds for the larger campaign.

The loan is being provided by China Development Bank, the Agricultural Bank of China, Pudong Development Bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Bank of China, China Construction Bank and the Bank of Communications, the office said.

The island now houses one of China's biggest ship producers, the state-owned Jiangnan Shipyard, and several ocean machinery factories.

"Changxing Island is aiming to develop itself into one of the world's most advanced island bases for the ocean engineering equipment industry," officials said in a news release yesterday.

Ship production is one of the six key industries identified for future development by Shanghai government.

The island's 10-year development plan will also feature major environmental protection efforts to preserve Changxing's wetlands and keep its waters free of industrial pollution.

Development will be aided by the Yangtze River Tunnel-Bridge Project, which comprises a tunnel to link Changxing Island and the Pudong New Area as well as a bridge to connect Changxing to Chongming Island, the city's biggest.

The highway artery is scheduled to open before the Shanghai World Expo next year, and the development office is seeking to build more roads in the near future to enhance the island's traffic network. Officials also said the expansion will help stimulate the island's tourism industry and improve public service facilities.


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