Officials once proposed building a "mini Hong Kong" in the Pearl River Delta but the idea was ditched shortly after being raised, two sources told the South China Morning Post yesterday.
Under the proposal, which could have cost hundreds of billions of dollars, the Hong Kong government would have rented 100 hectares of land in Nansha, Guangzhou to build a new town with its own industries, public housing and homes for the elderly, where Hong Kong law would have applied.
The idea mirrored the development of a new University of Macau campus in Hengqin, Zhuhai, which operates under Macau law.
Henqin was said to be another option floated in the Hong Kong government's search for land.
But a government source and a person familiar with the matter said the proposal, drafted by the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau in November last year, was rejected as not feasible after being circulated to various bureaus and senior officials.
The sources spoke after Apple Daily reported yesterday that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was considering moving low-income and disadvantaged residents to a "Hong Kong Park" in Nansha or Hengqin.
That report also accused members of the Consultative Committee on Economic and Trade Co-operation between Hong Kong and the Mainland, who were said to have been informed of the plan, of a conflict of interest as many had invested in Nansha.
But the report was denied by the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau and the consultative committee yesterday.
"The proposal was quickly deemed infeasible by senior officials, after considering the actual situation on the mainland," said a government source, adding that the proposal was not submitted to the Executive Council.
Another source familiar with the matter also said the paper was circulated among bureaus and most of them found the idea impractical.
In a statement, a bureau spokesman admitted that a proposal to rent a site in the Pearl River Delta where Hong Kong law would have applied had once been studied but was rejected.
Consultative committee chairman Jack So Chak-kwong said the committee had not received any proposal about Nansha or Hengqin development from the government.
A similar idea was also raised by Leung aides in the One Country Two Systems Research Institute late last year.