Shanghai aims to be bigger and better

2040 goals: to be a global economic, cultural and innovation hub and to be more liveable

Shanghai will become more liveable even as it aims to become one of the world's leading economic, innovation and cultural centres by 2040, according to a draft master- plan released on Monday.

China's commercial capital will, among other things, expand its capacity in sea, air and land transport, while leaving little room for further population growth.

It plans to nearly double passenger traffic at Shanghai Pudong International Airport and the smaller Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport by 2040.

It also sets a target for Shanghai port - the world's busiest container port - to increase its annual container handling by nearly 20 per cent.

"Shanghai has always positioned itself as a global city," said urban development expert Zhu Dajian from Tongji University. "Strategically, it is China's key gateway in terms of the flow of goods and people, and it has always been in competition with other key hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore."

  • Key targets of draft masterplan

  • POPULATION: Limited to 25 million residents. ENVIRONMENT: Concentration of PM2.5 in the air will be reduced to 20 mcg per cu m, down from 51 mcg per cu m last year.

    TRANSPORTATION: The two existing airports will be able to handle 160 million to 180 million passengers a year, while the Shanghai port will increase its capacity to handle 45 million 20-foot equivalent units of containers by 2040.

    PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Metro lines will increase from 600km to 1,000km. At least 60 per cent of residents will be within 600m of a subway station.

    PUBLIC FACILITIES: More than two museums and more than five medium-sized and large libraries for every 100,000 people.

Professor Zhu pointed out that Shanghai's biggest advantage lies in its proximity to a cluster of some 20 fast-developing cities, including Hangzhou, Suzhou and Ningbo, in the Yangtze River economic belt.

The entire metropolitan area, which covers about 6 per cent of China's total land area, is set to be the largest in the world, in terms of its population as well as industrial and economic capacity, by 2040, said Prof Zhu. So these targets are by no means ambitious for the city, which is right in the middle of such rapid developments, he added.

Experts noted that another key highlight of this masterplan is its emphasis on making Shanghai a more liveable city.

Mr Zhuang Shaoqin, director of Shanghai's planning bureau, said on Monday the plan's basic philosophy is to prioritise people and pursue a path of meticulous growth.

It will cap its number of permanent residents at about 25 million, which means it could add only another 850,000 residents in the next 24 years as Shanghai's population had already reached 24.15 million by the end of last year.

To improve the supply of affordable housing, the local government proposes to build more small and medium-sized flats and rental housing. It will also limit the supply of land for industrial use, make better use of underground spaces, and allocate land for public facilities and green belts.

"After more than 20 years of economic-driven development, it is time to rebalance and make up for shortcomings in areas such as the environment and public transport," said Prof Zhu.

"The quality of life in the city will have a direct impact on Shanghai's future development."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Shanghai aims to be bigger and better'. Print Edition | Subscribe