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Shanghai mayor says city seeks OK for Disneyland from central planners

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Shanghai is seeking approval from top economic planners to build a Disney theme park, the city’s mayor says. However, he said, an extension of a super-fast train line is not among big projects planned for the city this year. The comments by Mayor Han Zheng on the sidelines of the national legislative session in Beijing confirmed longtime speculation over plans for such an amusement park.

"We have applied to the National Development and Reform Commission but so far we haven’t received notice of approval, " the official Xinhua News Agency and other state media quoted Han as saying Thursday.  Walt Disney Co. officials have played down reports that the project is moving ahead, saying they have not yet reached an agreement with local authorities, despite discussing various initiatives in mainland China.

" Any big-scale project of this kind has to have central government approval, and Shanghai will abide by the central government’s decision, " Han told reporters. No specific location had been chosen, although "the best choice is Pudong, " Han said, referring to the city’s eastern financial and industrial zone. The Disneyland, if built, would be the third for Asia after amusement parks in Tokyo and Hong Kong. The Tokyo park is crowded year-round, but Hong Kong’s Disneyland has failed to live up to expectations since it opened in 2005.

Shanghai is in the middle of an enormous wave of urban renewal and subway construction projects, but Han said plans to extend the city’s super-fast magnetic levitation (maglev) train line were not included on a list of 67 major construction projects for this year.

Plans call for the maglev line that currently connects an airport in Shanghai’s eastern outskirts with its financial district to be extended to another airport in the west of the city. The line, a showcase project, uses powerful magnets to suspend the train above a track and propel it at high speed. Residents near the planned extension have staged peaceful but public protests, saying they worry the project could pose health risks.
Han reiterated the authorities’ promises to take all opinions into account in planning the extension, as well as warnings against violating bans on unauthorized protests.

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