China's government has unveiled plans to boost the mainland city of Shenzhen and make it into what state media called a "better place" than neighboring Hong Kong, following ongoing protests in the semi-autonomous financial hub.
Weeks of rallies, demonstrations, and occupations have plunged Hong Kong into crisis, which Beijing is now framing as an opportunity for Shenzhen's development. Yesterday, state-run media outlined a set of guidelines released by the central Chinese government that aims to turn Shenzhen into a pilot area of "socialism with Chinese characteristics." Across the border, Shenzhen sits behind the country's "Great Firewall," which restricts access to news and information, but has risen to become a symbol of the transformative reforms China launched 40 years ago.
Without giving much in the way of specific details, the policy document included goals such as transforming Shenzhen's "economic strength and development quality" into one of the best in the world by 2025. It also outlined an intention to build greater integration with Hong Kong and Macau. By 2035, the southern Chinese city will "lead the world" in overall economic competitiveness, the document said.
Hong Kong, on the other hand, is at risk of falling behind, hinted the nationalist state-run Global Times, citing experts. Published on Sunday, the timing of the policy document coincided with the 11th week of demonstrations in Hong Kong, the biggest challenge to China's rule of the semi-autonomous city since its 1997 handover from Britain.