Experts take aim at bold Nansha plan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2011, 12:00am


Planning experts have shot down ambitious plans to turn Guangzhou's Nansha district into the provincial administrative centre.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences study, commissioned by the city government and released in Beijing on Saturday, suggested moving the provincial government headquarters from the city centre to Nansha and transforming the district into another Hong Kong by 2050.

The Guangzhou Nansha Repositioning and Development Strategy Study attracted heavy media coverage with its bold suggestions for the remote southern district, which comprises about 700 square kilometres of relatively undeveloped rural land alongside some heavy industry.

It also proposed doubling Nansha's administrative jurisdiction by letting it absorb Guangzhou's Panyu district and parts of Zhongshan and Dongguan. In addition, it called on the central government to grant Nansha national development zone status comparable to Tianjin's Binhai and Shanghai's Pudong.

It said Nansha should be forged into an advanced, international maritime city in 40 years, matching Hong Kong and other international metropolises on all fronts. It also urged the central, provincial and city governments to give special policy, taxation and financial support to develop the district.

Guangzhou mayor Wan Qingliang said developing Nansha was an epic project and the academy's report offered guidance for new development directions.

'Today's Nansha is positioned to bear a historical mission and we shall follow national strategy to realise the dream our nation has for Nansha and Guangzhou,' he said.

But Zheng Tianxiang, a Pearl River Delta transport expert, said the report's grand vision for Nansha was a dream on paper only.

'Even Nansha's officials live in Guangzhou. How can you expect the Guangdong government to relocate to Nansha when it doesn't have good schools, hospitals and a transport network to match?' Zheng said.

He suggested that before aiming to become the provincial nerve centre Nansha should first aim to serve as a subsidiary city centre for Guangzhou by 2015 and then a subsidiary hub for Pearl River Delta cities.

Zheng also said it was unrealistic to expect Nansha to become an international city like Hong Kong in 40 years because it was too small to compete.

'This scholarly report from Beijing reads like a crowd-pleaser designed for Guangzhou officials to make it easier to sell Nansha's development ideas to the central government,' Zheng said.

Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences researcher Peng Peng said the report offered a vision for Nansha that local scholars had not foreseen but its suggestions would be too difficult to carry out.

'Relocating the provincial government to Nansha is not something even the Guangdong government has discussed formally before,' Peng said. 'It's possible but it won't happen within a short period of time.'