Chongming, China’s third largest island after Taiwan and Hainan, is the only county under the jurisdiction of Shanghai (since December 1, 1958). It is a low-lying alluvial island in the mouth of the Yangtze River, first emerging from the water in 618. The island has an area of 1200 km² and a population of about 700, 000. It is also a major relocation centre for migrants from Three Gorges Dam area.
Regarded as "Shanghai’s last piece of land”, it was the most rural area of Shanghai at one time, and agriculture has been its backbone industry. The "Shangri-la of Shanghai", as it claims to be, has a pleasant climate, loamy land and sufficient water. Well-known for vast green woods, fertile soil, whirling reeds and crossing rivers, the island is also a paradise for "belly-gods". Hairy crabs are among the island’s numerous food products, yet the fresh water crustaceans have, by far, the best reputation. Moreover, the island is famous for a yellow melon also called "vegetable jelly", used for cold dishes.
The long-term goal of the island is to be an environment-friendly island or a "sea garden” with forests, lakes, wetlands and farmlands. The island will focus its future development on tourism, resorts and exhibition centers, with no large-scale industrialization plans. According to a master plan, the eastern part of the island, which boasts the Dongtan wetlands, a resting place for birds migrating between Siberia and Australia, will be reserved as whole as a showcase of the island’s friendly ecological environment. The central area with the Dongping National Forest Park, the largest artificial forest park in east China, will further expand its forest and renovating the area into Shanghai’s largest public recreational area. The north part, close to Jiangsu Province, will be projected for large-scale theme parks and stadiums, with certain land reserved for the development of ecological agriculture. The south area, where the county administration is now based, will be an area for residence and certain pollution-free industries. And the western part, with a 200-hectare Bright Pearl Lake will be built into an international exhibition and convention area.
In positioning the island as an ecological center, the Shanghai government has restructured its administration by merging the nearby islands of Changxing and Hengsha into the district so as to facilitate the implementation of joint-development strategies for the three islands.
Right now only ferry boats connect the island with the mainland. The transportation also suffers when disastrous typhoons hit. However, Shanghai has decided to build a 25-km-long Shanghai-Chongming expressway, which will be completed around 2008. A 9-km-long tunnel will connect Shanghai’s Pudong district with Changxing Island and a 10-km-long cable-stayed bridge will link Changxing and Chongming islands. The expressway will further expand in the future to connect Chongming with Jiangsu Province in the north via a cross-sea bridge. This will greatly spur the development of the island. Many people are rushing to the island for gold.
Nat King Cole <Quizas Quizas Quizas>
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