The Shenzhen government has drawn up a blueprint to expand the country’s first special economic zone (SEZ) to the whole city – as a restructuring strategy to increase its competitiveness amid the economic downturn.
An official with the legislative affairs office of the Shenzhen People’s Congress, who did not want to be identified, said,’Legislators are working on the proposal to expand the scope of Shenzhen SEZ to the whole city, but it needs the approval of the State Council.’
Earlier this month, the State Council added the city to the list of two more areas to pilot comprehensive reforms. But ‘important reforms regarding the scope of the SEZ, land and finance should get approval case by case,’ the document specifies.
If the proposal is approved, Bao’an and Longgang districts, which make up four-fifths of the city’s land mass, will become part of the SEZ, whose area will swell from the current 395.81 sq km to more than 1,900 sq km.
In the land-strapped SEZ, where the government also needs to develop commercial facilities and green areas for residents, IT enterprises like Huawei have hardly any room for expansion.
Huawei is moving its production base to Longgang district, which is not yet part of the SEZ.
Bao’an and Longgang are separated from the four districts in the SEZ by a 100-km-long border although in recent years, the government has allowed entry to the SEZ with special passports.
China Daily states that since 1980, the government has set up five SEZs (Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou in Guangdong province, Xiamen in Fujian province, and Hainan Island).
In 2005 and 2006, the State Council designated Shanghai Pudong and Tianjin Binhai as comprehensive reform pilot areas, with Shenzhen added to the list this month.
On May 6, Shanghai Pudong secured approval to expand by merging with Nanhui District, to facilitate its plan of becoming an international financial and shipping center.