Songjiang district in Shanghai goes all out to facilitate development of advanced manufacturing

By Xie Weiqun, People’s Daily


In late November, the construction of a satellite industrial base kicked off at the Lingang Songjiang Sci-tech City in Songjiang district, Shanghai. Facilities including a digital satellite manufacturing plant and an in-orbit satellite monitoring, operating and control center are expected to be built during the first phase of the project.


The digital satellite manufacturing plant, with a designed annual production capacity of 300 satellites, is scheduled to be put into operation in 2023.


The project is aimed at helping form an innovative application ecosystem for the satellite Internet industry that will enjoy an industrial scale of over 20 billion yuan ($3.14 billion) by 2025.


Over the past five years or so, Songjiang has witnessed remarkable achievements in high-quality development. During China’s 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), the district’s GDP registered an average annual growth rate of 10.2 percent; in the first nine months of this year, its GDP rose 8.8 percent year on year. The district’s fiscal revenue has increased for 70 consecutive months, and the total amount of its fiscal revenue has ranked top among all districts of Shanghai.


In fact, just six years ago, the district located in the southwest suburb of Shanghai lagged behind most of the districts in the city in terms of core and leading indicators, including the growth rate of fiscal revenue. At that time, finding a new development path was an important priority of the district.


Songjiang district has geographical advantages, though it’s a suburban area of Shanghai. It is the starting point of the Shanghai section of the G60 Shanghai-Kunming Expressway that connects Shanghai and Kunming, capital of southwest China’s Yunnan province. 40 km of the expressway is in Songjiang district, which enjoys a natural connection with cities along the route, including Jiaxing in east China’s Zhejiang province.


Inspired by foreign countries’ experience of building advanced manufacturing industrial belts along transportation arteries, Songjiang laid emphasis on innovation in its development plan for the period from 2016 to 2020 and came up with the idea of building along the G60 expressway a science and technology innovation corridor.


Since 2016, the corridor has been extended from Songjiang all the way to nine cities (or districts) in the Yangtze River Delta region, becoming a major engine for the high-quality development of the region.


To boost the development of advanced manufacturing, Songjiang has converted about 67 hectares of land for real estate development into land for industrial purposes. At the same time, through the rectification of illegal land use and other measures, the district has managed to provide nearly 7 square kilometers of land for the innovation corridor.


At a factory of Huadao Biopharma, a biomedical company in Shanghai Songjiang Economic and Technological Development Zone, rows of automated cell culture machines are running in full gear.


“Songjiang has provided great support for us in many aspects of our development,” said Yu Xuejun, chairman of the company, adding that after learning that the company’s leased plant was troubled by power shortage, relevant local authorities specially expanded the capacity of nearby power facilities for the company.


Within merely five years, a vast array of major projects worth ten billion yuan or more and leading enterprises have put down roots in the Songjiang section of the science and technology innovation corridor along the G60 expressway, ushering in a stage of fast development of advanced manufacturing.


Configuring innovation chain based on industrial chains and promoting the integrated development of innovation and industrial chains has been an important path of Songjiang’s innovation-driven development. So far, it has cultivated a strategic emerging industrial cluster involving biomedicine and AI.


A total of 842 AI enterprises, including CSG and KUKA, have flocked to the industrial cluster. Chinese tech giant Tencent’s AI supercomputing center in Songjiang, which boasts world-class capabilities, is believed to grow into the digital foundation for the development of the Yangtze River Delta region.


In the field of new energy sources, Songjiang has gathered about 302 companies including BYD and Shanghai Baolong Automotive Corporation.


Such configuration has well sustained Songjiang’s high-quality development. The district’s tax revenue has continued to grow, to which its industry has contributed the most. In 2020, the absolute amount of industrial fixed asset investment in Songjiang increased at an average annual rate of 35.2 percent.


So far, Songjiang has 1,488 industrial enterprises above designated size, which generate a combined annual output value of 407.2 billion yuan, making Songjiang the second-highest ranked district in Shanghai.


The output value of strategic emerging industries now accounts for 63.1 percent of the district’s total, and the proportion of tax revenue from manufacturing in the district’s total tax revenue has risen significantly.


In an effort to make its innovation chain independent and controllable and guarantee that key and core technologies of advanced manufacturing are firmly held in its own hands, Songjiang has built a number of national laboratories and gathered scientists with leadership qualities. Major research platforms and institutes, including the G60 brain intelligence science and technology innovation base, Shanghai low carbon technology research institute, and world’s top digital laboratories like Tencent Keen Security Lab and Tencent YouTu Lab, have been built in Songjiang.