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Shenzhen 'worthy' partner for HK
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The southern boomtown will be a worthy metropolis partner with powerhouse neighbor Hong Kong, according to a newly released urban blueprint.

After advocating closer integration with Hong Kong for years, the Shenzhen government finally received positive feedback from the special administrative government of Hong Kong, with Chief Executive Donald Tsang saying in his policy address last month that the territory will go all out to promote the development of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong International Metropolis.

"We have visited several government departments of Hong Kong, including the planning and environmental protection agencies, to strengthen communication and seek further common ground on Shenzhen-Hong Kong cooperation before making revisions to our long-term urban plan," Shenzhen planning chief Wang Peng told reporters on Wednesday.

The city released its urban planning draft 2007-20 on Wednesday for a month-long public consultation, and is waiting final approval from the State Council.

The blueprint focuses on six major areas:

Taking a firm foothold in the Pearl River Delta Region and strengthening cooperation between Shenzhen and Hong Kong to jointly build a world-level metropolitan district

Improving cooperation on financial systems

Building a Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation Rim by enhancing cooperation and exchanges in the fields of research and development, innovation and the management and protection of intellectual property

Upgrading cooperation with Hong Kong in the hi-tech and high-end service industries.

Improving the border-crossing environment and transportation

Mutually improving the ecological environment.

According to a study by the Bauhinia Foundation Research Center, a Hong Kong non-government think tank, the Shenzhen-Hong Kong International Metropolis could outperform London and Paris in terms of gross domestic product to become the world's third largest city, after New York and Tokyo, by 2020.

"If the plan is passed, it will be an innovative move for two neighboring cities, with population of 7 million and 10 million, seek mutual development while maintaining independent governance," Zhang Yuge, a senior researcher with the China Development Institute, a Shenzhen-based non-government think tank, said.

"The combined city will have more impact on the mainland's economy while playing a more significant role in global markets. That's a win-win situation."

Despite the different political systems under the "one country, two systems" policy, the two cities could improve infrastructure, trade and business relations and build smoother communication between governments and non-government organizations, he proposed.

"It provides a good opportunity for Shenzhen, the weak partner in the cooperation, to learn advanced management and experience from Hong Kong. Ultimately people won't have the feeling they are in another city after crossing the border," he said.

(China Daily November 23, 2007)

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