Zhang Jun, 43, professor from Fu Dan University, said he is concerned about Shanghai’s future, not sure whether the city can keep up economic development and expand its prosperity if it stayed with its current political and economic format.
Among many reasons for his concern is the fact that Shanghai’s development has to follow the guideline of the central government, which may eventually limit the city’s development capability, Prof. Zhang suggested.
“I believe that people all hope that Shanghais can have big influence in the economic development of the Asian Pacific region, becoming the center of trade, traffic and information, like Hong Kong and Singapore …But what we have to consider is, how far Shanghai can go in the process to reach such a goal?” he said.
Not far, according to him, if Shanghai remained “one member of [China’s]31 provinces.” He suggested that Shanghai needed more freedom in legislation and administration in order to gain faster and bigger progress.
In other words, to allow Shanghai to surpass the average pace of development of entire China, “[the city] needs to have a new relationship model with the central government,” Prof. Zhang told the journalist. The city is now a municipality, a city directly under China's central government. Normally in China, a city is under the administration of its home province. But Prof. Zhang hoped Shanghai to have more freedom and power than a municipality.
“It’s not impossible to discuss the change of the administrative division of Shanghai,” Prof. Zhang said. “Hong Kong can be a special administrative region. Is it possible to extend this concept, or put it to more application here in Shanghai? I think this is a possible idea in the future thinking about …Shanghai’s position.”
China’s economy growth has made it necessary to have more than one cities like Hong Kong, and Shanghai is one of the best candidates among mainland cities to become another Hong Kong, Prof. Zhang added, although whether or not Shanghai can, or should go that direction is not up to the city’s decision, but the whole development strategy of the central government. However, allowing Shanghai to go forward would benefit the country’s economy as a whole, because it would provide better service for other regions’ development, according to Prof. Zhang.
The proposal aroused much discussion from the public, by posting online comments. Some haled it as a good idea. Some refuted Prof. Zhang as speaking stunning ideas only to gain attention. And more people view the idea as unrealistic. "It’s a good suggestion, but for sure it won’t be carried out," on poster wrote. Still some mocked the idea as simply making Shanghai another Chinese city that will require a visa to get in, like the case in Hong Kong.
----by Josie Liu