Xi to visit Shenzhen, attaching great significance to China's path, economic model

By Chen Qingqing Source: Global Times Published: 2020/10/12 9:29:13

Shenzhen. Photo: VCG

Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, this week and attend a celebration marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone held in the southern Chinese city on Wednesday morning. This kind of high-level visit to the country's pilot demonstration area of socialism with Chinese characteristics signals the great significance of China's development path despite a US-led crackdown by the West.

The Chinese top leader is also expected to deliver a speech at the event, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

The visit comes after the central government announced its plan to build Shenzhen, the city that led China's reform drive, into a pilot demonstration area of socialism with Chinese characteristics in August 2019. 

Ahead of Xi's visit, the central government unveiled detailed policies  on Sunday to help it achieve that goal, underscoring greater determination to build Shenzhen into a new engine leading regional growth while further integrating the two Special Administrative Regions (SARs), Hong Kong and Macao, into the country's development plans. 

As a pilot demonstration area of socialism with Chinese characteristics, Shenzhen's success is also seen as the most vivid  display of the path of socialism and success of the country's economic model, especially at a time when US hegemony is not sparing any efforts to curb countries with different social systems and development pathways, according to experts. 

Carrie Lam, chief executive of Hong Kong SAR, will also attend the celebration, according to an official announcement on Monday. Some media reports also suggested that Xi will meet Lam and Ho Iat Seng, chief executive of the Macao SAR, during the visit, sending a clear signal that the central government firmly supports the two SARs' further integration into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

As the country's first special economic zone (SEZ), established on August 26, 1980, Shenzhen saw its GDP surpass neighboring Hong Kong in 2018 for the first time, reaching 2.69 trillion yuan ($389.2 billion). The city's success story  has also been part of China's economic reform and opening-up, which was a process of shrugging off outdated ideas and trying new things, while marching forward in a fearless manner.

Commemorating this spirit has become crucial as it also reflects the Chinese top authority's determination to continue opening up amid growing external pressure, especially the US-led pressure on China on multiple fronts such as trade and high-technology, according to some experts.  

"Shenzhen has a unique role in driving growth in the Greater Bay Area. Due to political turmoil and the COVID-19 outbreak, Hong Kong could not fully play its role in leading the Bay Area growth, while Macao has limited economic scope, which makes Shenzhen significant," Li Xiaobing, an expert on Hong Kong affairs at Nankai University in Tianjin, told the Global Times on Monday. 

When Hong Kong experienced months of anti-government protests in 2019, which dragged the once prosperous Asian financial hub into recession, more voices emerged over whether the central government would grant more favorable policies to Shenzhen, its neighboring city, and even replace the crisis-stricken Hong Kong with a model city representing China's speed and ambition.

However, instead of being replaced by each other, Shenzhen, along with the HKSAR and Macao SAR, are believed to be key players, which will inject new growth momentum into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area ,some experts said. 

"Xi's visit will mainly further help accelerate the Greater Bay Area integration and development, which is extremely important as the COVID-19 outbreaks have put hurdles in the way of regional people-to-people exchanges," Liang Haiming, chairman of the China Silk Road iValley Research Institute, told the Global Times on Monday. 

Xi visited Shenzhen twice - in December 2012 and October 2018 - after assuming the post of general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in 2012, according to Xinhua. 

He emphasized that reform and opening up is the source of vitality in the development of modern China, "a magic tool" for the Party, and one the Chinese people use to keep pace with the times.

Together with Shenzhen, other southern cities including Shantou, Zhuhai in Guangdong and Xiamen in East China's Fujian were established as the first SEZs in 1980. Some Hong Kong media reported that Xi is also expected to visit other SEZ pioneers during this trip, without disclosing further details. 

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