Han Zheng

Shanghai mayor puts the environment before growth

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 October, 2007, 12:00am


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Shanghai would sacrifice economic growth rather than neglect the environment in its quest to be a sustainable city, mayor Han Zheng said yesterday.

The strong commitment on conservation and environmental protection was made one day after a reshuffle of the city's leadership.

For the second time in under a year, an outsider, Yu Zhengsheng, was appointed Shanghai's Communist Party secretary, replacing Xi Jinping, who spent only seven months as the city's top leader before being promoted to the apex of power, the Politburo Standing Committee, after the recently concluded 17th National Congress.

In March, Mr Xi, also an outsider, replaced Chen Liangyu, who was ousted last year for embezzling from the city's pension fund. Speaking to Shanghai cadres on Saturday, Mr Xi said he would continue to support Shanghai in his new position.

Mr Han stressed yesterday he would work closely with Mr Yu on stamping out corruption, saying: 'The Shanghai city government will not tolerate corruption.'

But he sidestepped a question on why the public was not allowed to observe the trial of property tycoon Chau Ching-ngai on charges of embezzlement, bribery and tax fraud. The hearing ended last week but a verdict has yet to be announced. The mayor also declined to comment on rumours that he would soon be transferred out of Shanghai.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the International Business Leaders' Advisory Council for the Mayor of Shanghai, Mr Han focused primarily on economic issues and said the city's gross domestic product this year would reach 1.2 trillion yuan.

Mr Han said that, as a city with a large population but little land and few natural resources, it urgently needed to improve energy efficiency.

'Environmental protection is a long-term commitment. The attitude of the city government is loud and clear - we are determined to protect the environment regardless whether it will sacrifice economic growth,' Mr Han said.

Hence the government would further expand the size of the service industry in the economy by focusing on strengthening financial services, logistics and their related businesses.

Shanghai would apply measures to eliminate highly polluting and low-energy-efficient industries, prohibit new projects and encourage environmental friendly industries.

He also said the government would tackle air and water pollution by cutting emissions and upgrading sewage treatment. On improving air quality, the city would focus on sulfur dioxide, he said.