Shanghai's mayor confirms the city is aiming for a Disney park
Shanghai mayor Han Zheng says he hopes for a breakthrough this year in his city's plans to build a Disney theme park, with State Council approval awaited.
Mr Han gave the first official confirmation yesterday that the city was making preliminary preparations for the development of a Disneyland.
His comments came after a panel discussion involving the Shanghai delegation at the National People's Congress in Beijing.
Asked when work would start, Mr Han said: 'We have to wait for the approval of the central government. There is hope that there will be a breakthrough in 2006.'
He said Shanghai had wanted to build a Disney theme park for a long time. 'Shanghai has the conditions to build such a theme park, and preliminary preparations for all aspects are being carried out. But in the end, it is up to the State Council,' Mr Han said.
Responding to a question about whether a Shanghai Disneyland would become a competitor for Hong Kong, Mr Han said competition would be orderly and beneficial for each city's development.
'There will be competition between Hong Kong and Shanghai, but I think mostly there is co-operation.
'We hope to form a co-operation relationship with Hong Kong. The co-operation between Hong Kong and Shanghai has been smooth under the framework of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, and the co-operation includes different aspects such as economics and talent. So far, over 1,000 Hong Kong residents are working in Shanghai under this framework.'
Shanghai officials have said privately that the city was hoping that the second Disney park in China would be open in time for the World Expo in 2010 and that land had been set aside in Pudong.
Leslie Goodman, senior vice-president of strategic communications for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said the company had not reached an agreement with Shanghai to build a Disney resort.
He said the focus was on the operation of Hong Kong Disneyland but added: 'If we were to reach an agreement for a second park in China, it would not open before 2010.'
A spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Tourism Board said the board was not worried about competing with a park in Shanghai, Tourism sector legislator Howard Young said China could accommodate two Disneylands.