Nansha to drive Guangzhou development
Mimi Lau in Guangzhou
With Beijing's blessing, Nansha is set to drive Guangzhou's development while becoming an integral part of an internationally competitive city cluster in the Pearl River Delta.
However, experts warned yesterday that the authorities would have to overcome institutionalised problems such as corruption and reform governance in order to achieve the ambitious goals set out for new development zones.
Nansha's repositioning comes as a major boost for the district after the beating its economic morale took in 2009 when it lost out to Zhanjiang, in western Guangdong, on two massive projects - a Sino-Kuwait petrochemical refinery and a national steel manufacturing hub.
During the annual session of the National People's Congress in Beijing this week, provincial party chief Wang Yang revealed a plan to reposition Nansha as a pioneer to rejuvenate Guangzhou's development.
'I think we can forge a new Guangzhou by positioning Nansha's new development zone as a breakthrough point,' Wang told the Guangdong discussion panel meeting on Monday.
Guangzhou city planning authorities are expected to deliver a new planning proposal for Nansha by the end of this year. City party chief Zhang Guangning said Nansha could be turned into a service hub, connected to Hong Kong's 'business, financial and technological innovation centre'.
Under the nation's 12th five-year plan, Nansha, Qianhai in Shenzhen and Zhuhai's Hengqin district will be forged into three key platforms to help upgrade Guangdong's economic structure and turn the major Pearl River Delta cities into an internationally competitive city cluster.
Ding Li, a regional planning expert with the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, said Nansha's new positioning could help transform Guangzhou.
However, he said the ambitious national strategy for new development zones could only be achieved if the authorities overcame internal problems.
'If the government fails to tackle problems such as corruption and limiting government power, then these three development zones will not stand any chance of meeting the ambitious goals,' Ding said.
Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences researcher Peng Peng said it was a significant move that would lift Nansha's status. 'From now on, every urban planning strategy, including transportation, basic infrastructure, population and education, for Nansha will have a much more important role,' Peng said.
He said the plan was backed by the central government, and Nansha could develop into a logistics hub and outsourcing centre for technology products by working closely with Hong Kong.
In 2005, the authorities announced a plan to promote Nansha's position, saying that an area of 527 square kilometres, including Guangzhou's only sea port, had been placed directly under the municipal government. Initially, it was planned that Nansha would develop into a manufacturing base for heavy industries such as steel, iron, car manufacturing and petrochemicals, with harbour facilities to match.
But it lost out on the biggest foreign-investment project on the mainland at the time - a refinery capable of producing 15 million tonnes of oil and 800,000 tonnes of ethylene a year - after strong opposition from Hong Kong over its potentially disastrous impact on the regional environment.
It suffered another blow when Guangdong Iron and Steel Group opted to build a national manufacturing hub elsewhere.
Authorities announced a plan to promote Nansha in 2005
But the city suffered a devastating economic blow when two major industrial plants went elsewhere in: 2009