Thirty years after the reform and opening up, Shanghai Pudong New Area has been transformed from a paddy field into a bustling city of skyscrapers, creating many firsts and leading the transformation of the city and the country.

In April 1990, the State Council announced the launch of Pudong, and implemented the policy of the Economic and Technological Development Zone, while also taking advantage of some of the practices of the Special Economic Zone.

In September 2013, the China (Experimental) Free Trade Experimental Zone was officially inaugurated in Pudong, the country’s first free trade zone. As many as 100 policies, such as the negative list mechanism for foreign investment, which was first piloted in Pudong, have now been promoted nationwide.
At a symposium in September this year, Li Qiang, secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee, described the Shanghai Free Trade Zone as: “The Shanghai Free Trade Zone will use this platform to incubate world-leading innovative enterprises.

The bustling 31 square kilometres of the Lujiazui Financial District in central Pudong is another feature. Official statistics show that more than 870 domestic commercial banks, securities companies and insurance companies have established branches or subsidiaries in Pudong.

Meanwhile, up to 41% of foreign banks registered with China’s financial regulators and over 90% of foreign private equity firms have offices in Pudong. Nine of the 10 largest asset managers in the world have offices in Pudong.

In December 1996, Pudong became the first area to allow foreign banks to conduct RMB business.
“Due to the functional positioning of various parts of Pudong at the time, such as Lujiazui assuming the financial function, and the relocation of the Shanghai branch of the People’s Bank of China to Lujiazui in June 1995, many foreign banks began moving to Lujiazui in 1997.” Pei Yiken, former vice president of Citibank China, said.

In 2015, Saxo Bank opened its China office in Lujiazui. Xu Fan, CEO of Bank of Denmark China, said that although it is relatively late to the party, the Danish bank understands that the phenomenal development of Pudong not only supports Shanghai’s position as a financial center in China, but also on a global scale.
Pudong has also been a magnet for multinationals, with the region attracting $8.6 billion in foreign investment in 2019, up 10.2% year-on-year. By the end of March, a total of 730 MNCs had established regional headquarters in Shanghai, half of them in Pudong.

In 2003, Honeywell moved its Asia-Pacific headquarters to the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park in Pudong, and in 2016, the American conglomerate increased its investment in China by expanding its office area.

Honeywell China President Zhang Siyuan said that Honeywell’s presence in Pudong is conducive to the company’s continued development in China.
“China is now Honeywell’s largest market outside the United States. We look forward to deepening our cooperation with local Chinese companies such as China Commercial Aircraft Corporation, which is based in Pudong. The solid foundation we have laid in Pudong will continue to drive our growth in China and play a vital role in our integration into the country’s digital economy.” He said.

The increasing number of commercial real estate projects also shows that Pudong has been booming for some time. According to Jones Lang LaSalle, a global property services organization, the total area of Grade A office space in the Pudong CBD in 2009 was approximately 1.52 million square meters. By the end of 2018, that number exceeded 3 million.

Eddie Wu, Managing Director of JLL East China, said that although global economic uncertainty has multiplied due to the spread of the new coronavirus, Pudong has considerable experience in dealing with the crisis.

“In the long run, the acceleration of financial openness and the upgrading of technology will help harness the growth of various industries.” Wu said.
Pudong’s GDP in 2019 grew 7% year-on-year, surpassing 1.27 trillion yuan (about $179.36 billion), accounting for about a third of Shanghai’s total GDP. But Shanghai has a higher goal for Pudong. Ma Chunlei, director of the Shanghai Municipal Development and Reform Commission, said at a press conference in June that by 2025, the GDP of Pudong will exceed 2 trillion yuan.

“The reforms underway in Pudong are more about integration and focus. Therefore, efforts should be made to make Pudong a benchmark for China’s deepening reform and opening up and innovative development.” Ma Chunlei said.