Shenzhen dumps nearly all its bold plans for Qianhai

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 June, 2011, 12:00am


Shenzhen authorities have told Qianhai - a 15-square-kilometre development zone - to focus only on its economy, just six months after the city's leaders vowed to turn it into a mini Hong Kong with greater legal and administrative autonomy.

A final version of Qianhai's administrative regulation approved by the Standing Committee of the Shenzhen People's Congress on Monday deleted almost all the bold experimental measures that promised to learn from Hong Kong's experience.

These included the appointment of two Hong Kong members to its 11-member decision-making committee, having a Hong Kong-style independent commission against corruption and an ombudsman, and requiring all senior officials to declare their incomes and financial records.

The State Council designated Qianhai, 15 square kilometres of reclaimed land north of Shekou, as a 'Shenzhen-Hong Kong modern service industries co-operation zone' in August and said it should be turned into 'the Manhattan of the Pearl River Delta' by allowing it to test some groundbreaking ideas. One was to invite Hong Kong people to help manage the area and set up a Hong Kong-style anti-corruption mechanism.

Dr Fang Zhou, assistant chief research officer at the Hong Kong-based One Country Two Systems Research Institute, said the regulation approved by the Shenzhen legislature suggested that Hong Kong would not be directly involved in Qianhai's management, although it might be connected economically.

'Unlike Singapore's co-operation with Suzhou , Hong Kong doesn't have any government department to focus on co-development issues, and can't directly get involved in Qianhai's development,' Fang said. 'Also, inviting Hong Kong people to manage Qianhai and many other innovative measures surpassed the limits of Shenzhen's authority. It's realistic to delete them.'

Zhou Rongsheng, deputy director of the Shenzhen People's Congress' legal committee, was quoted in yesterday's Southern Metropolis News as saying the U-turn had been made because 'Qianhai is still at the beginning stage of attracting investment and construction. Its management shouldn't take too many responsibilities besides economic development.'

Hong Kong's Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau yesterday said it was a decision for Shenzhen and declined to comment on the city's U-turn on the bold reforms.

'The Shenzhen municipal government is responsible for the development and management of Qianhai, while the SAR government provides comments on the study and formulation of issues like development planning and the related policies under the principle of 'one country, two systems',' it said yesterday. 'We won't comment on media reports on individual aspects of the legislative work in Shenzhen.'

The spokesman said Hong Kong would support Qianhai by encouraging its businesses to invest there.

Mainland media reported that people were disappointed that the regulation no longer included many experimental measures aimed at blazing a trail for democratisation and fighting widespread corruption. The proposal for a Hong Kong-style graft-buster and ombudsman was changed to a joint supervisory team involving the Communist Party's disciplinary watchdog, prosecutors, police and auditors.

Qianhai, along with Nansha in Guangzhou and Hengqin in Zhuhai , was written into China's 12th five-year plan for 2011-15 as a testing ground of strategic importance. Before the U-turn, it was set to have its own laws, regulations and tax regime by the end of the year.

Additional reporting by Ada Lee