January 17-24, 2006

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"The most important characteristic of a chief executive of any region is that he or she should be a noble person."

- Li Ka Shing, business tycoon from Hong Kong, on the topic of the special administrative region's future chief executive. see more

Arabian delights

CHEF Tarek Mouriess carried about 10 kinds of ingredients in his suitcase on his flight to Shanghai to host an Arabic Food Promotion at the Hilton Shanghai.
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People's Congress looks to new jobs, better transport

By Pan Haixia and Xu Jitao

Pledging to improve the life quality of its residents, Shanghai has set the year 2010 as the deadline for "obvious improvement" in its public transportation.

At the same time, the registered unemployment rate for the next five years will be maintained at around 4.5 per cent.

At the Fourth Plenary Session of the 12th Shanghai Municipal People's Congress, yesterday's group reviews stirred heated debate among the deputies.

Public transport

For the next five years, Shanghai will give full priority to the development of public transportation. Already on the agenda is a leap from the present 123 kilometres to 400 kilometres of metro lines, and growth from 23.7 kilometres to at least 100 kilometres of dedicated bus lanes, said Vice Mayor Yang Xiong at yesterday's group discussion.

The difficulty passengers have in transferring between the metro and buses and the incomplete public transport network, will also see improvement, he said.

A newly released survey by the municipal government shows that by the end of 2004, only 23.7 per cent of people who travel around the city choose public transportation. If taxi users are excluded, the figure stood at around 18.5 per cent. This number is one percentage point lower than the number from a similar survey in 1986, even though there are more buses available than there were 20 years ago.

"Due to the slowness and inconvenience of taking public transportation, many people would rather ride bikes or motorcycles when they go to work," said Xia Liqin with the Shanghai Decisionmaking and Consulting Commission.

The problem will be alleviated in the next five years when more metro lines are put in use, she said, but the pressure from heavy traffic on roads will still be intense.

According to Congress deputy Wei Ming, the number of vehicles in the city increases by around 100,000 every year. The city has now more than 1.8 million vehicles.

A reshuffle of some the city's bus routes is possible. With the construction of more metro lines, the city will shift some bus routes from the urban area to the suburbs, which are still short of public transportation.

The 2010 World Expo is a major challenge facing the still fragile public transportation system. The Expo is expected to bring about 70 million visitors to the city between May 1 and October 31 in 2010. "Combined with the number of other visits to the city, Shanghai expects to handle around 140 million visitors that year," Zhou said.

Unemployment issue

The issue of unemployed youth in the city was brought up by Congress members from different districts at yesterday's meeting.

This new group of unemployed people is calling for solutions for their problems.

According to Vice Mayor Zhou Taitong, the registered unemployment rate remained at around 4.5 per cent last year. But the number of unemployed between the ages of 20 and 30 increased.

Zhang Yuanyuan, a Congress deputy from Yangpu District carried out an investigation in 2005 in the Chen'er Residential Community where she lives. Of the 65 cases of quarrels and even fighting revealed by the survey, one-third involved unemployed young people in the families.

"Unemployment of young people now has become their parents' biggest problem," she said, referring to them as "ken lao zu," meaning youngsters who devour their parents.

Ji Lanfang, an officer from the Social Work Association of No2 Ruijin Road in the Luwan District, pointed out that the direct cause of the increasing unemployment in this age group is that the number of students recruited by the universities and colleges were increased drastically in the last few years. "Now more and more students are graduated from the universities, but the job opportunities have not increased accordingly," she said, adding that the problem would become serious if it could not be solved quickly.

Congress deputy Gan Weigang, also an official of the Zhabei Labour and Social Security Bureau, said the Expo in 2010 would be a good opportunity for resolving the problem. "Local government should support the new industries which the Expo will bring," he said.

According to Zhou Taitong, two vocational education centres have been put into use and four others are expected to open to unemployed young people in a few months. "In the future, the municipal government will ask all the district governments to build similar centres," he added.

Cai Shaoyao

Balance public opinion and judicial independence



End of the Dream
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Auto fans melt away
With the approach of the Formula One Grand Prix, Yu Zhifei, deputy general manager of the Shanghai International Circuit, was worried about how to attract enough spectators to the circuit and rev up sluggish fan interest in the event.
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Under artificial eyes

FOR most customers, CCTV (closed-circuit television) surveillance cameras installed in shops, banks, buses or metro stops and many other places, merit little attention. But for Xiao Gang, such cameras have become an agonizing and confusing problem.

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