Shenzhen's rapid rise no threat to Hong Kong

Adrian Lo
Adrian Lo |
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King Glory Plaza in Shenzhen, whose economy is rapidly growing. Photo: Edward Wong

As our neighbour's economy grows, the only way out for is co-operation

By Adrian Lo, Li Po Chun United World College

I recently revisited Shenzhen after a few years, and I was astonished by what I saw. So much has changed in only a few years' time.

I came to realise that the gap between Shenzhen and Hong Kong is narrowing. Shenzhen has risen quickly in terms of quality of living. The Shenzhen mass transit system will cover more than 100 stops by the start of the World University Games in 2011.

Shenzhen's GDP is now 57 per cent of that of Hong Kong. Its economic growth has been coupled with investments in developing industries, technology, education and culture as well as the environment.

This might sound like the end of Hong Kong's superiority. For so long we've prided ourselves as the international metropolis, Asia's World City. Is there anything to fear? I believe so, but the solution lies in greater co-operation.

Closer ties between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, and possibly Guangzhou as well, will help the development of Hong Kong. Ever since the 1980s, industries have migrated north into the Pearl River Delta, setting up factories first in Shenzhen, later in Dongguan . Industrial development has grown rapidly. By 2006, more than 200,000 people commute daily across the border between Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

Last month the UN Habitat, a UN agency on human settlement, released a report at the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro which identified Hong Kong-Shenzhen-Guangzhou as the largest "mega-region" in the world, home to about 120 million people.

Hong Kong people have to be ready for the challenges ahead. Improving infrastructure is the first and foremost on the agenda, and therefore I believe the construction of the Express Rail Link is crucial to our future development.

We in Hong Kong still have the advantages of quality education and advanced technology. Tertiary institutes in Hong Kong are looking north for land to expand. Recently, the University of Hong Kong announced its plan to construct an extension to its current campus in Shenzhen, whose size would be twice its current campus in Pokfulam.

For young people, the current situation presents both challenges and opportunities. We need to be open-minded, boost our competitiveness and grab every opportunity we get. We should also equip ourselves with the necessary skills, and not be afraid to collaborate with the mainland.

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