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Disneyland still on the cards for Shanghai

Shanghi Mayor Han Zheng said yesterday that the city is still negotiating with Walt Disney on opening the first Disney theme park on the Chinese mainland.


"We are like a couple in love, not married yet, and so far there's no timetable for the 'marriage'," the mayor joked with journalists at an opening session of Shanghai delegation during the ongoing annual session of the National People's Congress in Beijing.


Han said the Shanghai government and Disney have always maintained communication and negotiation on the project, and both teams adopted a more practical attitude in the past year.


In January the local government signed a framework agreement with Disney, a standard procedure toward a possible deal. No details were disclosed, however. If the Shanghai government and Disney finally agree to "tie the knot," it will become a third Disney theme park in Asia after Tokyo and Hong Kong.


In the Great Hall of the People yesterday afternoon, Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng and Mayor Han met more than 100 reporters at the opening session, a tradition for every delegation during the annual Parliament session.


Yu addressed the trial of yuan-denominated settlements of trade deals between some areas including Shanghai and neighboring Yangtze River Delta region and Hong Kong and Macau, and between the southwestern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Yunnan Province with Southeast Asian countries.


He said it would benefit Shanghai, the mainland and the two special administrative regions.


Hu Xiping, governor of Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank, explained that the yuan settlement is "vital" for the country to deal with the current financial crisis.


"Considering China's continuous trade surplus and the scale of foreign reserve, the yuan settlement will strengthen the currency's role in the international trade," Hu said.


The governor revealed that Shanghai is also applying to the central government for a trial of yuan-based settlement with foreign trade partners.


Mayor Han also addressed the progress of the maglev project connecting Shanghai's two airports. He said the government would announce the appraisal result and invite experts to evaluate the plan. Meanwhile, the government will listen to the opinions of those residents who live nearby the maglev line.


Some residents have voiced concern on the possible pollution caused by the speedy train after the initial plan was revealed.


For the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, the mayor said the preparation work in on schedule.


Another hot topic is the trial of household registration system, or hukou, which is designed to attract out-of-town talents. The three-year test run enables new Shanghainese to enjoy the same social insurance benefits as locals.


The mayor said more details of the hukou system will be released in the second half of this year.


(Shanghai Daily March 9, 2009)