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Creative thinking benefits Shanghai & HK

Updated: 2013-06-14 07:40
By Shi Jing in Shanghai ( China Daily)

He also said that the special administrative government plans to invest heavily in educating the next generation of creative talent in industry and commerce - efforts which will help bring Hong Kong into a new area of competition with Shanghai whose government also has its eye fixed on promoting innovation and creativity.

Some economists argue that the two cities, pursuing similar economic goals, should be working to complement each other rather than going head-to-head, because they serve clients in entirely different regions.

But others have suggested that healthy competition in creativity as well as other areas including finance, would help instill a sense of urgency in the respective governments of the two cities.

Creativity is certainly taking shape along the waterways of Shanghai, especially in parts of Xuhui district along the west bank of the Huangpu River.

According to Sun Jiwei, Party secretary of Shanghai Xuhui District Committee, the Bund is well known at home and abroad as the image of Shanghai's glorious past, while Lujiazui, the financial center in Pudong, demonstrates the achievements in its recent 30 years of reform and opening up.

The future, he added, is well represented by the west bank area of the river, at Xuhui.

"In this sense, the development of Xuhui district will start the engine of the next round of development of Shanghai and its urban transformation," said Sun at the 2nd Annual ULI Asia Pacific Summit held in Shanghai in early June, an event hosted by the Washington DC based nonprofit research and education organization, the Urban Land Institute.

But as other districts in Shanghai also try to make the best use of the Huangpu river, Sun said Xuhui is keeping its eye firmly on one key word: culture.

Sun is aiming high, and cites two prime examples of the type of destination he sees the west bank of Shanghai becoming in future - La Rive Gauche, or the south bank of the river Seine in Paris, which clusters culture and related industries together and the south bank of the river Thames in London, which also attracts a large number of galleries, creative industries and designers.

A number of world-leading companies have already settled in Xuhui.

DreamWorks Animation, the US film company, announced plans in August last year to build a $3.14 billion theme park in the West Bank Media Port in Xihui district. The studio's newly formed China joint venture, Oriental DreamWorks, is scheduled to open the theme park in 2016, and it is expected to bring in 20 million visitors a year.

Major Hong Kong-based entertainment companies including Television Broadcast Ltd and Emperor Motion Pictures have also created a foothold in the west bank of the river.

Sun also said at the ULI Asia Pacific Summit that two privately-owned galleries are expected to open in Xuhui by the end of this year.

A flagship store of Eslite Bookstore, Taiwan's best known retail bookstore chains, is expected to open soon too, as is the largest IMAX screen in China.

Back in the special administrative region of Hong Kong, huge efforts are being made to establish its own creative community in the meantime.

"The academic standards of most Hong Kong designers are comparatively low, but the really good thing is that the government there is giving continuous support," said Zheng Peiguang, the chairman and CEO of Shanghai Redtown Culture Development Co, who has been working in Hong Kong for over a decade.

"For example, the Hong Kong Design Center is wholly government sponsored and is enabling designers to whole-heartedly focus on their work," Zheng added.

Since its establishment in 2000, Hong Kong's Innovation and Technology Commission has invested heavily in the Hong Kong Productivity Council, and Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute Co Ltd.

Of the commission's HK$559 million (US$71.9 million) in funding for 2013 and 2014, HK$318 million was devoted to HKPC and HKASTRI, bringing much-needed finance to the special administrative region's creative community.

The Hong Kong government has also promised to provide financial help to six public universities in Hong Kong via the Innovation and Technology Fund over the next three years.

Each university will receive as much as HK$12 million to enhance their ability to commercialize their technology.

As the sixth largest technology exporter to the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong has the know-how to help organizations in the mainland reshape themselves into more knowledge-based entities, Chief Executive Leung said.

Although Hong Kong may have a lack of experience in doing so, Leung said people should think "smart about the future", especially with regards the "innovative solutions" required for the country's "urban regeneration plans".


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