Shanghai aims to expand its GDP by 6 to 6.5 percent this year with the main priorities being deepening market reforms and advancing opening-up, the city’s mayor told the second session of the 15th Shanghai People’s Congress, which opened yesterday.

Mayor Ying Yong added that the Shanghai government had fulfilled all of last year’s goals.

With 2019 marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China this year will be critical to the building of a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, Ying said, as he delivered the Report on the Work of the Government.

“It is imperative for us to stay committed to steady progress and the new development philosophy in pursuit of high-quality development, and forge ahead with supply-side structural reform to deepen market-oriented reforms and advance opening-up,” Ying said.

He said revenue in the general public budget is targeted to increase at around 5 percent, compared with last year’s 7 percent.

Research and development expenditure is expected to be kept at around 4 percent of the local GDP, and the government also plans to spend 3 percent of GDP in environmental protection.

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The development of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ) will gain new momentum, Ying said.

He pledged to put in place mechanisms in alignment with international norms, expand the functions of free trade accounts (FTAs) and the “Single Window” platform for international trade, and establish a hub for market factor allocation in service of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Shanghai will be fully supportive and cooperative in making and implementing the plan for the establishment of the science and technology innovation board and the registration system pilot, foster high-quality IPO candidates, and optimise financial ecosystem.

Meanwhile, Shanghai will play a leading role in promoting the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta.

“As part of the efforts to participate in the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, we will make Chongming a pilot demonstration zone for green development and a world-class eco-island,” Ying said.

The Government aims to host the second China International Import Expo in the process of shaping new systems for a more open economy.

To increase the concentration and visibility of Shanghai as a science and technology innovation centre, the government will develop Zhangjiang Comprehensive National Science Center, bringing more globally acknowledged laboratories, scientific research institutions and R&D institutes while setting up a top-notch cluster of big science facilities at a faster pace. The core function of Shanghai as an international financial, trade and shipping centre will also be fortified.

This means attracting more headquarters of financial institutions, making Shanghai a stage for the global debuts of products, upgrading and expanding the tax refund scheme for tourists leaving China, and promoting synergistic growth of the spot and futures markets of commodities.

The government will also implement industrial policies for sectors such as integrated circuits, artificial intelligence and biomedicine.

Shanghai will also work to attract more world-renowned scientists, entrepreneurs and investors.

The urban registered unemployment rate will be kept around 4.3 percent. Shanghai residents’ average disposable income will grow in tandem with economic growth and the CPI will be in line with the national price control targets, Ying said.

In 2019, the city is expected to have better transportation, telecommunications and internet infrastructure.

Initial work will begin on Line Chongming and a Metro line that connects Hongqiao and Pudong International Airports, and construction of phase two of Line 10, phase one of Line 18, Line 14 and 15 will be accelerated, adding 128 kilometres to the total mileage of Shanghai’s metro system.

For better connections of the Yangtze River Delta region, Shanghai-Nantong Railway and the Shanghai section of Shanghai-Suzhou-Huzhou Railway will pick up speed.

Meanwhile, the city will build a smart infrastructure system, deploying the 5G network and a new type of citywide Internet of Things. The government will also step up the application of artificial intelligence in education, health care, elderly care, assistance to the disabled, transportation and ecology. Also, Ying said the government must “win the battle against pollution.”

As a part of the plan, Shanghai will work to develop a national carbon trading system, upgrade 3,600 oil or gas fired boilers to low nitrogen oxide ones, further restrict diesel trucks and make all newly launched buses renewable energy driven.

More forests, green space, urban green paths and vertical landscaping will be planted and developed.

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Ying said the Shanghai government has fulfilled all of last year’s goals and greatly increased the city’s core competitiveness.

Shanghai’s GDP grew steadily in 2018 expanding 6.6 percent from a year earlier to 3.27 trillion yuan (US$480 billion), achieving the goal of 6.5 percent growth.

The GDP per capita of the resident exceeded US$20,000.

Employment stayed stable with 582,000 jobs newly created in 2018. The registered urban unemployment rate was 3.6 percent, and the surveyed figure is estimated to be around 4.3 percent. Prices also remained steady in general, with the Consumer Price Index up 1.6 percent.

Ying said that Shanghai has made new breakthroughs in reform and innovation, with the total research and development expenditure accounting for 4 percent of the city’s GDP and the number of invention patents per 10,000 people reaching 47.5, up 14.5 percent from 2017. Shanghai welcomed 45 new regional headquarters and 15 new R&D centres of multinational corporations in 2018, making the cumulative numbers to be 670 and 441.

A total of 835 brands chose Shanghai to launch their very first shops in China, and Shanghai ranked the second in concentration of international retailers in the world.

The city now has 76,000 mu (50 square kilometres) of forest and 1,307 hectares of green space, 224 kilometres of urban green paths and 400,000 square meters of vertical landscaping more than the previous year.

For elderly residents, the government has added 80 new community-based service centres, 81 new day care centres and 7,103 beds in care homes, and retrofitted 1,194 care beds for those with dementia and 44 poorly-built care homes in rural areas.

For the youngest, the city has built 122 new day care centres, opened 53 kindergartens and set up 509 day care classes during summer vacations for primary school students.

In suburban Shanghai, village renewal involving 45,000 households and waste water treatment upgrading for 188,000 homes was completed in 2018 as a part of the rural rejuvenation plan.

Meanwhile, the Government is also making progress in the use of big data technology to create a “one-stop government service portal.”