25 February 2020
Shenzhen (left) and Hong Kong (right) can be role models for mainland cities for China's 13th five-year plan. Photos: Xinhua, HKEJ
Shenzhen (left) and Hong Kong (right) can be role models for mainland cities for China's 13th five-year plan. Photos: Xinhua, HKEJ

How HK, Shenzhen can be role models for mainland cities

The 13th five-year plan unveiled at the fifth plenary session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party outlined 10 main goals.

These include maintaining economic growth, transforming the model for economic growth, restructuring the industrial mix and, for the first time, an emphasis on promoting ecological progress to build a beautiful China.

However, the mainland’s higher education system does not fit Beijing’s ambitious new blueprint, which did not touch too much on education.

In fact, China’s higher education system has to go for quality rather than quantity, as education in primary and secondary schools and the National College Entrance Examination have stifled creativity and independent thinking and judgment among the younger generation.

China’s reform relies on transforming its cities.

And Hong Kong and Shenzhen are serving as role models for mainland cities.

Hong Kong

Not only can Hong Kong act as a role model for the 13th five-year plan, it can become the mainland’s super-connector in its “One Belt, One Road” strategy.

The city has plenty to share in its legal system, innovation, environmental protection and sustainable development.

First, the blueprint has highlighted environmental issues.

Hong Kong has extensive experience to share in green development and environmental protection.

Apart from safe drinking water, it can show how to deal with air pollution and protect green land from modern property development.

Many mainland tourists are surprised to find so many country parks in such a metropolis.

Second, China has outlined a clear roadmap for robots in its “Made in China 2025” strategy.

Several universities in Hong Kong have done comprehensive research in this area, but mostly in academic studies.

There is vast business potential to be tapped in transferring such research into marketable products.

The city can strive to become an assessment or trading platform for robot technology.

Also, Hong Kong has strengths in healthcare management relevant to the mainland’s explosive demand for healthcare due to its aging population.

The city can also share its expertise in transport management and airport and railway management. 

Hong Kong can also benefit from the mainland’s removal of the one-child policy, which may stimulate demand for insurance and education.


Housing prices in Shenzhen’s Nanshan district have been fairly steady as a result of the setting up of the Nanshan Science and Technology Park.

The park has more than 20,000 talented high-tech workers.

And the city’s Qianhai is in the front line of financial innovation.

If the local government offers more policy incentives, the Nanshan Science and Technology Park might become a hub for new technology and even surpass Silicon Valley in the United States.

Shenzhen is a successful example of how to reposition a city’s development as part of its economic transformation.

It could pave the way for the mainland’s switch to a more sustainable growth pattern.

Inside the Nanshan Science and Technology Park, nearly 20 universities have labs or whole buildings.

And almost all the universities in Hong Kong have one or two buildings inside the park.

The platform serves as a high-tech business incubator.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 10.

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version中文版]

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adjunct professor in the Department of Finance at HKUST Business School