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Inter-city competition and cooperation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen

Under the challenge of globalization and rapid economic growth in mainland China, both Hong Kong and Shenzhen are emerging as entrepreneurial cities with active development strategies. Hong Kong is facing enormous challenges from major Chinese cities such as Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Shanghai.

While Hong Kong and Shenzhen compete in some areas, inter-city cooperation has become an important strategy for the governments of both cities. Hong Kong government has to make critical public policy on the issues of Hong Kong-Shenzhen relations.

Professor Jianfa Shen, Professor in GRM Department and Director of Urban and Regional Development in Pacific Asia, Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, has completed a research on inter-city competition and cooperation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Members of the research team include Dr Xiaolong Luo, Mr Gordon Kee and one PhD student, Mr Yun Li. The project titled "Inter-city competition and cooperation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen in the 11th five-year plan period" was funded by Public Policy Research Grant, Research Grants Council of Hong Kong for the period 1st September 2007 to 30th November 2009.

Based on the research framework (Figure 1), the project examined the urban development strategies of each city and its implications for inter-city competition. In the past two years, four telephone surveys among Hong Kong residents were conducted and various government officials, scholars and businessmen were interviewed. Various research papers and survey reports have been completed. Overall, the following has been addressed:

1. A conceptual framework of inter-city competition and cooperation was developed. It was found that the government-owned economic sector is more likely to engage in competition among various dimensions. Asymmetry urban governance was identified as a major challenge for inter-city cooperation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The concepts of relative competition and absolute competition were proposed.

2. The urban development strategies of Hong Kong and Shenzhen were examined. Major projects of inter-city cooperation, such as airport and border area development, were examined in their relation to urban development strategies.

3. Three case studies of Hong Kong and Shenzhen airports, border area development and cross-boundary infrastructure were conducted. Policy suggestions were proposed regarding inter-city cooperation. For example, more information and visiting exchange are needed between the officials and residents in the two cities to ensure a better understanding. Hong Kong should provide more support to manufacturing in PRD/Shenzhen as Hong Kong–PRD as a whole is one of the world’s major manufacturing centers. The Lok Ma Chau spur line should be built as a priority. The expensive cross-boundary train fare should be reviewed. Airport cooperation should improve transport infrastructure between the two cities and two airports for residents in the two cities instead of focusing on transfer passengers.

Fig.1 Research framework Fig.2 Hong Kong residents’ view on what should be developed in the Lok Ma Chau river loop area Fig.3 Shenzhen