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June 9, 2011

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Goodbye Luwan, hello new Huangpu!

SHANGHAI'S plan to merge Luwan District with Huangpu District to create a new Huangpu District has been approved by the central government, officials announced yesterday.

The merger is considered a major step forward for the city's development as an international financial center.

Currently, Huangpu covers 12.49 square kilometers in the heart of the city, including the historic Bund area. Its population is about 601,900.

Luwan, covering 8.03 square kilometers, contains Huaihai Road M. and Xintiandi. It is home to about 304,400 residents.

"The merger of the two downtown districts will bolster the development of the Bund financial zone," said Sun Lijian, an economics professor at Fudan University. Luwan, with World Expo-related plots available for development, can help the 2.6-square-kilometer Bund financial area develop financial services industries to complement the Lujiazui financial zone which focuses on banking services across the Huangpu River, Sun said.

Meanwhile, the merger can reduce the government's operational costs and avoid construction competition between districts. Currently, many districts compete with each other in GDP development.

Chen Xian, a researcher at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said: "The merger will contribute to more reasonable overall planning. Each area will focus on developing different but complementary functions."

"The merger of small-scale downtown districts is an irresistible trend," he said. "The city doesn't need so many district governments now. Similar mergers between counties haven taken place in other provinces nationwide."

Luwan District boasted a proud heritage and included the site of the 1st National Congress of the Communist Party of China and the former residences of Dr Sun Yat-sen and late Premier Zhou Enlai.

The district, famous for its stone gate building, or shikumen houses, was also the home for many modern and high-end luxury brands.

Huangpu District has been the commercial center of Shanghai for a long period. Shanghai's major docks were located along the riverfronts in Huangpu.

It contains many must-see tourist sites including the Yuyuan Garden, People's Square and the landmark Bund area.


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