A CPPCC member proposed the opening of a Shenzhen-Hong Kong free trade zone in order to boost economic development in the two places.
David Chu Shu-ho, CPPCC member from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said that the close relations between Shenzhen and Hong Kong and the current new situation have made it both necessary and feasible to open a free trade zone or a special zone similar to free trade zone between Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
Speaking at group discussions of the annual session of the Ninth CPPCC National Committee, he said that after China has become a WTO member, the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone is no longer "special" in terms of preferential policies, and the original role of Hong Kong as a bridge linking the domestic and international markets is weakening.
The opening of Shenzhen-Hong Kong free trade zone will make Shenzhen continue its role as an "economic leader" and make it favorable for defining the position and role of Hong Kong in the national economy and for helping Hong Kong out of economic recession.
David Chu, who is here attending the on-going annual session of the Ninth CPPCC National Committee, conceived that the free trade zone would give top priority to service trade and extend the concept of free trade zone from its traditional tariff reduction and product trade to economic and technical cooperation and investment agreement and service trade. By signing free trade agreements, Shenzhen would open to Hong Kong its service trade, including such intermediary services in accounting, financial affairs and law, banking, insurance and securities as well as telecom, tourism and retail sales. There should also be cooperation in customs and taxation.
He said that the significance of opening the free trade zone lies in the fact that it would serve as a piece of "experimental land" in expanding opening up as part of the efforts to implement WTO rules.
(People's Daily March 7, 2002)