Party chief says bureaucratic thinking is causing city to fall behind 'international' Hong Kong, Singapore and Seoul Shenzhen officials will emancipate their minds to keep pace with international metropolises, according to the city's mayor, Xu Zongheng . Mr Xu told a National People's Congress press conference in Beijing that modern international cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Seoul were the models from which Shenzhen drew its inspiration. Guangdong party chief Wang Yang earlier advocated 'thought liberalisation' to maintain the province's pioneering position in the mainland's reform and modernisation drive. Mr Wang encouraged Shenzhen to 'have the courage to challenge modern world cities'. Shenzhen party chief Liu Yupu has blamed the city's bureaucratic thinking for stunting its development. Mr Xu explained yesterday that his understanding of 'mind emancipation' was to clear obstacles in the city's economic, social and political systems, and free officials from the fetters of convention. He said the city's economic and social development lagged behind the world's most modern cities but was convinced it would catch up through mind emancipation. 'There's a huge gap between Shenzhen and world-class metropolises ... Our per capita GDP reached US$10,000 last year, but this number is only one-third of that in Hong Kong or Singapore.' But he also stressed that Shenzhen could not rush ahead blind to realities on the mainland, which he said remained a developing country and was still at an elementary stage of socialism. He urged Shenzhen to enhance its 'soft' competitive powers - namely 'the quality of the city for its citizens'. Mr Xu said: 'There are also huge gaps between Shenzhen and its models in the quality of daily life: namely legal institutions, city planning, education, culture, health care, environmental protection and social welfare.' During a number of trips last year Shenzhen sent more than 100 senior officials to Hong Kong and Singapore to study modernisation. The mayor also promised to allocate 200 million to 300 million yuan (HK$220 million to HK$330 million) to fund innovation to make the city a 'playground for entrepreneurs'. He believed that liberation at a time of the 30th anniversary of the country's reform and open-door policy would help Shenzhen raise its quality of living. 'Reformation and creation is the soul of Shenzhen. Only thought-liberation can bring great development.' He said free thinking would be encouraged in the public service and among the municipal government's personnel, to enhance standards. 'Work will also be done in environmental protection and building an eco-city.' Mr Xu insisted Shenzhen had made gains in political reform during previous decades and would maintain its status as a pioneer for the mainland's mind emancipation and political reformation in the coming decade. He said the city had simplified its administration for residents' convenience and promised the city's voters more power. 'Direct voting has been raised rom 50 to 70 per cent in both residential committees and village committees this year,' he said.