Home >News >world >Why China sees Shenzhen as the next Hong Kong

China’s government has unveiled plans to develop the mainland city of Shenzhen and make it into what state media called a “better place" than neighbouring Hong Kong, after another huge pro-democracy rally in the semi-autonomous financial hub. A look at the implications.

1. What is China’s plan for Shenzhen?

On Monday, state-run media outlined a set of guidelines released by the central Chinese government that aims to turn Shenzhen into a pilot area of “socialism with Chinese characteristics". Without giving much in the way of specific details, the policy document includes goals such as transforming Shenzhen’s “economic strength and development quality" into one of the best in the world by 2025. It also outlines an intention to build greater integration with Hong Kong and Macau. By 2035, the southern Chinese city will “lead the world" in overall economic competitiveness, it says.

2. What can China’s plan mean for Hong Kong?

Weeks of demonstrations and occupations have plunged Hong Kong into crisis—which Beijing is now framing as an opportunity for Shenzhen’s development. Hong Kong is at risk of falling behind, hinted the Global Times, citing experts. “If Hong Kong is still not ready to embrace opportunities to join the country’s development... the city’s development would be ‘very limited in the future while Shenzhen is running at a much faster speed’," Beihang University professor Tian Feilong told the daily. The document says those who are from Hong Kong and Macau but work and live in Shen-zhen would be treated as residents.

3. What may have triggered the policy document?

Its publication on Sunday coincided with the 11th week of the Hong Kong protests—the biggest challenge to China’s rule of the semi-autonomous city since its 1997 handover by Britain.

4. What are the protests in Hong Kong about?

The protests were initially triggered by opposition to a planned extradition law, but have since evolved into a movement for democratic reforms. The city has been rocked by over two months of protests and clashes between police and activists, who fear the semi-autonomous city’s freedoms are under threat from Beijing.

The former British colony of Hong Kong operates under a “one country, two systems" framework, which gives citizens rights unseen on the mainland, such as freedom of speech.

5. How has US reacted to the protests?

Donald Trump warned China that carrying out a Tiananmen Square-style crackdown on Hong Kong pro-democracy protests would harm trade talks between the two nations. “I think it’d be very hard to deal if they do violence, I mean, if it’s another Tiananmen Square," Trump said on Sunday. Phone calls between US and Chinese mid-level officials are planned for the next 10 days and, if those are successful, negotiations between senior officials could resume, Trump’s chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Sunday.

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