Hong Kong eyes Shenzhen as way out

By Elaine Duan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, March 16, 2012
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Six Hong Kong members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) jointly drafted a proposal for the central government to grant Shenzhen City the special status of a municipality, similar to Beijing and Shanghai, with the aim of offering the southern Chinese city more freedom to cooperate with Hong Kong, Wen Wei Po reported.

Hong Kong eyes Shenzhen as way out

Many Hong Kong residents believe that Shenzhen's upgraded municipal status would help mainland tourists easily clear Hong Kong Customs. [Photo: nddaily.com]

The proposal has created a closely-watched national debate. Advocates believe the special status could help the city engage in a more direct dialog with Hong Kong, which will set the basis for building the pair into an international financial center, comparable to London and New York. This would aid Hong Kong as it seeks capital and room for continued growth.

Others said that the special status designation will place Shenzhen as a direct competitor with Hong Kong, which would result in unnecessary waste.

However, the idea behind the proposal is not new. A widespread debate over Shenzhen's special status began in 1988, when the city was rumored to have started bidding for the status, just eight years after its founding.

Since then, a new such proposal has been submitted to the CPPCC sessions every five years. Despite these recurring submissions, the Shenzhen municipal government denied in February any such bids for special status and denied any rumors to the contrary.

The Hong Kong CPPCC members rushed to make the proposal, hoping that Shenzhen and Hong Kong could work together to gain a core position among super international metropolitans located along South China's Pearl River Delta economic region.

But how can Hong Kong benefit if Shenzhen becomes a municipality under the direct supervision of the central government? Scholars and Hong Kong citizens have different opinions than their high-profile CPPCC member representatives.

Song Ding, director of the Shenzhen Municipal Tourism and Real Estate Research Center, said Hong Kong alone can hardly rival the world's top financial centers like New York, London and Tokyo, and must seek closer cooperation with Shenzhen.

However, the two cities are not equal in terms of administrative. Unless Shenzhen is granted special status from the central government, Shenzhen will be unable to independently work with Hong Kong without the Guangdong provincial government's authorization, according to Song.

He proposed that the two cities promote mutual integration centered on financial cooperation, including merging the Hong Kong Stock Exchange with the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. He also suggested building an international transport center and international innovation center to develop high-technologies.

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