17 January 2019
Qianhai, one of Guangdong's pilot free trade zones, welcomes professional talent from outside the mainland. Photo: Xinhua
Qianhai, one of Guangdong's pilot free trade zones, welcomes professional talent from outside the mainland. Photo: Xinhua

How to attract Hong Kong professionals to Qianhai

Although the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between Hong Kong and mainland China has allowed and encouraged the city’s professionals to do business in the mainland, implementation has not been very smooth.

Obstacles include protectionist rules by local governments, unclear application procedures, restrictions on investors’ qualifications, the work experience of the professionals, and so on.

As a practical matter, it is possible to solve these problems in some pilot areas at first, for example, in Qianhai.

The Qianhai special zone in Shenzhen expects to have four leading industries — finance, modern logistics, information technology and technology services, among other professional service sectors.

With a highly developed professional service industry in Hong Kong, the city has nurtured a large amount of talent in various areas.

Qianhai can provide good career development opportunities for Hong Kong’s architects, surveyors, landscape architects, lawyers, accountants, IT talent and financial service talent.

The pilot in talent cooperation with Qianhai will be a key step to introduce Hong Kong talent to work in the mainland.

Recognition of professional qualifications is a big burden for Hong Kong professionals who expect to work in the mainland.

Some of the professional qualification exams are very different from those in Hong Kong in terms of language and forms. It would be hard for them to obtain certificates in the mainland.

In addition, given the efforts toward mutual recognition of professional qualifications between the two sides under CEPA, differences in operation and supervision models created obstacles to its full implementation.

In Hong Kong, every professional service industry has its respective laws and emphasis on self-regulation.

But in the mainland, the regulators are mainly the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the industry’s respective administrative authorities.

Qianhai may ease qualification requirements for Hong Kong professionals while tendering out projects.

The zone has a serious policy of attracting overseas talent. For example, it has reduced the personal income tax rate to 15 percent. It also offers various subsidy schemes and support to foster startups.

But that’s not enough.

The Qianhai Authority should continue to simplify the administrative procedures involved in attracting overseas talent and offer supporting facilities like accommodations, transportation, education and medical services for them.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 11.

Translation by Myssie You

[Chinese version 中文版]

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chief research officer of the One Country Two Systems Institute

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