Mr. Rong is right for developing Shanghai

Reclining in his Western business suit, Rong Chong Wu looks and talks more like a Hong Kong businessman than the deputy mayor of the largest city in Communist China.

''I'm glad to see you advertising Chinese products,'' he tells a foreign journalist clad in a Chines silk jacket.

Mr. Rong is Shanghai'ssecond most senior official and one of China's youngest administrators.

He blongs to the new breed of officials being appointed to key positions in an effort to push through radical reforms of China's bureacracy and economy.

Mr. Rong is also evidence of the commitment of the Chinese leadership -- under the pragmatic Deng Xiapoing -- to promote intellectuals to positions where their knowledge and talents can be of real use to the nation's modernization drive.

When he was ''elected'' to deputy mayor last year by China's nominal parliament, the National People's Congress, Mr. Rong was one of the first intellectuals to reach such a position in China's administrative hierarchy.

In the 1950s, he studied mechanical engineering in the Soviet Union. But it was from the Chinese Embassy in Bonn that he was recalled last year to take up his appointment as deputy mayor. There he had held the position of councilor in charge of technical scientific affairs for more than three years, a senior position.

The bried resume he offers on his background diplomatically avoids any comment on his experiences during the Cultural Revolution, when Shanghai became the base for the ''gang of four.'' Instead Mr. Rong is eager to talk of his plans for Shanghai.

''The city must be armed with new technology if living standards are to be raised,'' the bullish Mr. Rong says.

''Shanghai has a good appetite and can consume a lot. Our problem is not that the goods produced here cannot be sold, but that we cannot produce enough to meet the needs of the market.

''Once people wanted only bicyles, wristwatches, and maybe a sewing machine. Now they are setting a high demand on things like color TV sets, refrigerators, washing machines, and other consumer durables,'' he says.

''If we are going to develop production, we must raise our economic efficiency, and we need advanced technology to do this,'' he says.

Shanghai, wit its industrial base -- well-devloped by Chinese standards -- provided almost one-sixth of China's total revenue last year and is seen as vital to the leadership's plans to quadruple national industrial and agricultural production by the turn of the century.

The last two years have seen the Chinese leadership step up efforts to hasten the development of Shanghai, which was initially slow to respond to the new economic and open-door foreign policies.

Between 1980 and 1983 the city managed to attract only $200 million worth of pledged foreign investment, compared with the $1.8 billion pledged to the special economic zone, Shenzhen in Guangdong Province, in the same period.

In the last year Shanghai has been granted greater autonomy in its dealings with foreign investors -- although, like Tianjin and Peking, it remains under the direct control of the central government.

And now the city looks likely to play host to the first completely foreign-owned enterprise to be established in China since 1949.

According to Mr. Rong, negotiations with Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing ( 3M) Company for the establishment of an adhesive factory in Shanghai are expected to be finalized this year.

The Shanghai Investment and Trust Corporation has recently been empowered to conduct foreign-exchange business, which allows it to hold funds overseas and theoretically invest in a foreign company.

As a part of the drive for foreign investment, Shanghai is also building an industrial estate for foreign joint ventures and a residential town for foreigners on the outskirts of the city.

On completion, the Minghang industrial park will be able to accommodate more than 100 enterprises. And factories manufacturing textiles, electronics, building materials, and processed foods are expected to be built there with foreign funds.

Mr. Rong is confident that Shanghai will attract enough foreign investment for its plans. He is more concerned about competition from Jaingsu Provnce than from any of the special economic zones which can offer enterprises long tax holidays and other concessions.

Peking in fact rezoned Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang provinces into a single ''economic zone'' in an effort to streamline the bureacracy and aid efforts to modernize industry and increase production in the area.

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