Shenzhen's mayor has brushed aside concerns that the city may lose its advantages as a Special Economic Zone when China enters the World Trade Organisation, emphasising that the city represents China's future. Shenzhen would continue to play the role of an exemplary experiment zone for the rest of the country in economic reform and in improving the efficiency of government, said Mayor Yu Youjun. He gave a Press briefing yesterday in Guangzhou on Shenzhen's economy and development plans. 'Shenzhen represents the epitome of China's open policy. It will always be one step [ahead] in system reforms,' Mr Yu said. It will become one of the first cities to realise modernisation in China in 2005, with gross domestic product reaching 300 billion yuan (about HK$281.1 billion) at an annual growth of 12 per cent. The per capita income would reach US$7,600 by then, passing the international benchmark of US$5,000 for modernisation for a country, Mr Yu said. To cope with international competition, Shenzhen planned to nurture 70 to 80 giant corporations with individual annual revenue of more than one billion yuan. Three to four enterprises would become 'aircraft carriers' for the economy, he said. Yesterday, Mr Yu also emphasised the importance of co-operating with Hong Kong, revealing that Shenzhen was pushing for comprehensive co-operation between the Shenzhen and Hong Kong airports. 'There is the possibility of co-operation in terms of connection of cargo and passenger flights as well as management expertise. 'Hong Kong can even become a shareholder of the Shenzhen airport, so the two can really become one entity.' In view of further co-operation between the two regions, Mr Yu openly endorsed the suggestion of a free-trade zone with Hong Kong, which has been under heated discussion since the idea was proposed last month. 'We feel that to set up a free-trade zone is a great idea. It responds to the new situation with China entering the WTO.' Beijing was investigating the possibility, he said. 'Beijing has yet made the final decision. But once it is approved, we will take action.'