Oh the humanity! Oh the travesty! Our dear Luwan will soon be no more thanks to a central government plan that was just passed yesterday. The new land mass, a merger of Huangpu and Luwan districts, will just be called Huangpu.
Huangpu currently covers 12.49 square kilometeres and is home to 430,000 residents. The addition of Luwan to its fold means that it will now have another 8.03 square kilometers and 270,000 more residents.
According to Global Times, the merger is a way to “optimize urban planning”:
“As the downtown area expands, small districts cause administrative waste,” said Deng Zhituan, assistant researcher at Shanghai Social Science Institute’s city and region research center.
An urban area of the size of Huangpu and Luwan combined does not require more than one government, Deng added.
Could this be a move to help the flagging Expo site now that Expo is done? Though Huangpu plays hosts to hopping locations like the Bund and Yu Yuan/Old Town, it’s post-Expo property has largely flailed since the big event.
Shanghai Daily seems to think so, quoting an economics professor who pointed out exactly who the development is helping:
“The merger of the two downtown districts will bolster the development of the Bund financial zone,” said Sun Lijian, an economics professor at Fudan University. Luwan, with World Expo-related plots available for development, can help the 2.6-square-kilometer Bund financial area develop financial services industries to complement the Lujiazui financial zone which focuses on banking services across the Huangpu River, Sun said.
Predictably, the move has had its share of critics – many of them government workers who will now find their posts obsolete. But it’s also raised the ire of at least one culture critic, who pointed out that Luwan in itself is a brand:
Yu Hai, a sociologist at Shanghai-based Fudan University, said he is worried that the culture of Luwan district, where the city’s major cultural attractions such as the former French Concession, Xintiandi and Tianzifang are located, may gradually disappear.
“Culture has a significant role in Shanghai. People from around the world come to the city not only to see its modern side, but also the cultural heritage and the fusion of the East and West. Luwan itself is a cultural brand of the city,” he said.
“The new district authorities may need to consider how to protect the culture of Luwan after the merger,” he said.