At the time when Hong Kong’s anti-extradition bill protests continued, the Chinese government announced its plan to support Shenzhen as a pilot zone for a new practice of “one country, two systems.” Some scholars believe that the move shows the central government’s wish to tell Hong Kong that China’s development will not be affected by the situation in Hong Kong and that Shenzhen, with strong support from the central government, may replace Hong Kong in terms of its financial and economic standing.
On August 18, the State Council issued an opinion about developing a “Pilot Zone for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” in Shenzhen. The document indicated that the plan is conducive to promoting reform and opening up, implementing the strategy of the Greater Bay Area of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, and enriching the development of “one country, two systems.” It includes a total of 19 specific goals, aims to make Shen Zhen a world top city by 2025, and a national model by 2035.
He Ping, a professor at Tsinghua University told Radio Free Asia that Hong Kong’s frequent protests in recent days has led to political instability. At this juncture, the central government’s plan to develop Shenzhen vigorously is actually to show Hong Kong that Shenzhen can be as prosperous as Hong Kong. He believes that if Hong Kong’s demonstrations continue and the economy stagnates, Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center may not be sustainable, and Shenzhen may replace Hong Kong.
However, Liu Kaiming, a scholar at a Shen Zhen think tank, pointed out that even if the central government strongly supports Shenzhen, Hong Kong’s full-fledged rule of law and financial institutions, which are in line with international standards, makes it impossible for a mainland city to take over. If the mainland wants to attract foreign investors, it has to change and use the rule of law and the financial system, but that cannot be done in the short run.
Source: Radio Free Asia, August 19, 2019