Is China overdeveloping economic zones?

They're in line with opening up to global trade, but critics say rapid rise limits success of newer ones

A cargo ship carrying containers is seen near the Yantian port in Shenzhen, China, on May 17, 2020.
A cargo ship carrying containers is seen near the Yantian port in Shenzhen, China, on May 17, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

When Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a speech on Oct 14 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (SEZ), he chose to do it in the Qianhai district, a relatively new area positioning itself as a hub for cross-border services with Hong Kong.

Just over two hours' drive away, and across the estuary where the Pearl River empties into the sea, is the island of Hengqin. Much like Qianhai, it lies close to an established economic zone (Zhuhai, in this case) and also positions itself as a hub for cooperation and trade with Macau.

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