The Chinese government revealed plans to develop Shenzhen, a booming city in Guangdong Province and considered the “Silicon Valley of China,” into a global trading and financial hub that will both integrate and replace Hong Kong.
China’s State Council published a 19-point Shenzhen directive on Sunday titled, “Guidelines on Supporting Shenzhen in Building a Pilot Demonstration Area of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” in the state-backed People’s Daily.
The plan will centralize the development of the Guangdong – Hong Kong – Macao Greater Bay Area. As the name suggests, China plans to integrate Guangdong Province with Hong Kong and Macao.
“Home to 71.16 million people, the Greater Bay Area had a total GDP of $1.6 trillion in 2018, the third-highest after the Tokyo bay area and New York metropolitan area,” stated the government report.
The Greater Bay Area strategic plan release comes at a time when Hong Kong has been rocked by more than 11 weeks of protests that have recently escalated into outright violence and the shutting down of Hong Kong International Airport, one of the busiest logistical hubs in the world.
“Hong Kong is not suitable to hold up the major role for the Greater Bay Area strategy, and the home court will be mainland cities,” said Tian Feilong, a Hong Kong affairs expert at Beihang University in Beijing to the People’s Daily.
Shenzhen transformed from a rural fishing village to a manufacturing and tech mega-city and is popularly characterized as China’s “Silicon Valley” due to its high concentration of tech start-ups and giant tech firms headquartered in the city like Tencent Holdings Limited and Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.
“Shenzhen will set an example for residents in Hong Kong and also other regional cities, on how to better integrate local policy and mechanism support into national development,” said the government report in the People’s Daily.
“Hong Kong will benefit when Shenzhen grows into a world-leading city, as the professionals attracted to Shenzhen could also engage in business in Hong Kong”, it added.