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Wuhan reaches for sky with towering plan

(China Daily)

09:34, August 22, 2011

An illustration depicting the 666-meter-tall building that would be built in Wuhan, Hubei province. (Photo from China Daily)

WUHAN - This city, the capital of Central China's Hubei province, could be home to the nation's tallest building if new plans get off the drawing board.

The Wuhan Planning and Designing Institute said on Saturday that a 666-meter skyscraper, if built according to the plans, would be the highest building in China - 34 meters taller than the Shanghai Center, which is under construction.

"It's just a design, and I'm not sure if it would be achieved," an official at the institute surnamed Li told China Daily on Sunday.

According to the institute, the building will rise on the site of the Hanzhengjie Market, which was the largest logistics hub in the 1980s. Its fortunes ebbed in the 1990s as similar markets emerged across China and online shopping became popular.

As the competitive pressure mounted, Hanzhengjie made plans to move this year. The market now covers 1.67 square kilometers with about 25,000 shops of all sizes and types in the most prosperous business district of Wuhan.

Because Hanzhengjie is so big, its relocation and the redevelopment of the site is a focal point in the city's development.

Ye Qing, deputy-director of the Hubei Provincial Bureau of Statistics, who is also a member of the National People's Congress, told China Daily that he supported this project as long as it was a corporate decision, not a government action.

However, Liu Meng, 35, who has been a computer vendor for three years, said he thought the project was only related to officials and had nothing to do with the lives of ordinary people.

"Money should be used to promote our living conditions instead of putting up more cement towers," Liu said.

In recent years, many Chinese cities have competed to have the highest building. Of the 10 tallest buildings in the world, more than half are in China.

Zhang Tingyin, an economics professor with the Party School of the Henan Committee of the CPC, said that such "administrative achievement projects would never consider the interests of the average citizen".

Wuhan is already working toward a record. In June, it launched the world's third-tallest building project along the Yangtze River, with a total planned floor space of 300,000 sq m.

When construction finishes in five years, the 5 billion yuan ($750 million) structure will house luxury hotels, offices, high-end stores and apartments.


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