Pioneer of China’s socialist modernization eyes tech breakthroughs, financial opening
Plan for ‘shinning pearl’ shows socialist modernizations goals
Published: Jul 20, 2021 07:48 PM
Aerial photo taken on June 21, 2018 shows morning view of the Lujiazui area in Pudong of Shanghai, east China.Photo:Xinhua

Aerial photo taken on June 21, 2018 shows morning view of the Lujiazui area in Pudong of Shanghai, east China.Photo:Xinhua

The Pudong New Area of Shanghai will lead China's intensifying push for breakthroughs in key technologies such as basic software and integrated circuits, as the central government moves to model the area into a pioneer zone for socialist modernization in the coming years, officials said on Tuesday during a press conference in Beijing. 

As a crucial part of China's overarching goal to become a modern socialist power in 2050, the Pudong New Area will also become a pioneering area for systemic reforms ranging from the yuan's offshore transactions to ships' registration and management, officials noted, adding that Pudong is also expected to play a leading role in China's national strategies, including opening-up and dual circulation development strategy.

At the press conference, officials elaborated on what measures Pudong plan to take to evolve into a socialist modernization pioneer area, a task put forward in a guideline jointly released by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council, the cabinet, on Thursday. 

According to the guideline, Pudong will comprehensively establish a modernized economy and build modern urban districts and governance by 2035, while the area will become a "shining pearl" of a great modern socialist country that is highly attractive, creative, competitive and influential internationally by 2050.

As the pioneer for China's social and economic development goals in next three decades or so, Pudong's policy measures and strategic focuses also provide a rare window into China's broad nationwide efforts to build a modern socialist power by 2050.

One task that Pudong will assume in becoming a socialist modernization pioneer is that it should become a "national team" and spearhead in making breakthroughs in core technologies, Cong Liang, a senior official at the National Development and Reform Commission, said during the conference.

He particularly mentioned that the area will target frontier high-tech areas such as brain science and quantum science, as well as resolve key technological bottlenecks such as high-end integrated circuit components and basic software. 

Officials also pointed to some specific plans that Pudong would follow to push technological progress. For example, the area will construct a batch of engineering technology research centers, as well as accelerate the construction of national laboratories. The area will also lead in the country's establishment of next-generation artificial intelligence experimental zones. 

Pudong's frontier role in pushing technological research comes as China is striving to shake off reliance on overseas key technologies, after the US blockaded supplies to Chinese tech companies.

Shi Jianxun, an economics professor at the School of Economics and Management of Tongji University in Shanghai, said that Pudong has the most complete design, research and production base for chip manufacturing in China. 

"Pudong's advantages in talent pools, the software and hardware industries connected to the chip sector, as well as the fact that it is well-connected with international markets, will become the basis for Pudong to be modeled into a key area for China's technological breakthroughs," Shi told the Global Times. 

Apart from technologies, officials also said that Pudong will focus on the supply of "high-level mechanisms," keeping a close watch on deepening reforms in key areas. 

During the press conference, financial reform was frequently mentioned. For example, Wang Xin, director of the Research Bureau of the People's Bank of China, said that the central bank will support Shanghai to experiment on the yuan's free use. Officials will also explore the possibility of free capital flows and transactions in Shanghai's Lingang Special Area, a new hub for overseas manufacturing giants like Tesla.

Shi said that under such reforms, yuan-denominated funds from Pudong or Lingang can invest in Hong Kong or overseas markets directly, while offshore yuan can flow into Pudong freely. 

Xi Junyang, professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times that as Pudong is home to a cluster of financial institutions and exchanges, if the Chinese government moves to undertake financial reforms in the future, it is likely to put those reforms to the test initially in Pudong. 

Such reforms could include transactions of carbon financial derivatives as well as the southbound leg of the bond connect mechanism between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, which he said will be first applied to Pudong's interbank market. But he stressed that it might still take a lot of time before China would take bold reform moves in this area.