China gives Shenzhen greater autonomy to attract investment

Shenzhen is home to some of China's leading technology giants, including Huawei and Tencent.
Shenzhen is home to some of China's leading technology giants, including Huawei and Tencent.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING • China yesterday announced measures that will grant its southern boomtown Shenzhen more autonomy as Beijing seeks to raise the profile of the region as a tech and financial hub amid tensions with the United States.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) published a list of reforms for Shenzhen that includes steps for financial markets, intellectual property (IP) protection, economic legislation and talent attraction.

The supporting policies for Shenzhen are more than those given to the free-trade zone in China's southern island province Hainan, China News Service cited Mr Peng Sen, former deputy director of the NDRC, as saying.

Shenzhen is home to some of China's leading technology giants, including Huawei Technologies and Tencent Holdings, and is a crucial part of Beijing's plan to drive economic integration with Hong Kong and Macau into the so-called Greater Bay Area to ultimately rival Tokyo Bay or Silicon Valley.

In a speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of Shenzhen's establishment as a special economic zone last Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the city should also be given more autonomy for reform and strive to solve any problems from breakneck growth. Foreign investors' interests should be better looked after, he added.

Some of the key measures are:

• Shenzhen will start a stock futures index.

• Innovative companies can stage initial public offerings on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange with depository receipts.

• State-owned companies in the region will be given greater autonomy to carry out market-based reforms.

• Shenzhen will build a new IP rights protection system that ensures digital IP protection and punishes infringements.

• Restrictions on foreign ownership in telecoms will be lifted.

• Shenzhen will streamline visa rules to attract talent.

• The city will be allowed to issue offshore, yuan-denominated local government bonds.

• Designated medical institutions across nine mainland cities in the Greater Bay Area will be allowed to use drugs available in Hong Kong and Macau.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2020, with the headline 'China gives Shenzhen greater autonomy to attract investment'. Print Edition | Subscribe