Five years ago when President Xi Jinping paid his first visit to Guangdong during his first term, Qianhai was one of his several destinations. Xi stopped at what is now the Qianhai Stone Park near the bay area and said Qianhai should dare to be “the first to eat crabs” – dubbing it a pioneer of innovation.
“Qianhai must seize the opportunity that was given by the Central Government. On one hand, it should rely on Hong Kong, whose advantage lies in the services sector, especially the high-end services industry. On the other hand, it has to serve the mainland,” said Xi.
“Qianhai should also play a role as a bridge that connects the world. It should have a global vision, learning from other advanced experiences and management skills. In the near future we may have another Hong Kong Central here.”
With the support of the Central Government, Qianhai is estimated to achieve its goals ahead of schedule, which were laid out when it was established in 2010.
Just like the city of Shenzhen, which has become the first in China to implement the reform and opening up policy, there was no predecessor for Qianhai to learn from. Still, its ambition is to become the leading force of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, a key link of the Belt and Road Initiative, and the “Manhattan of the East.”
To achieve these objectives, the free trade zone has to create a wealth and talent vortex as well as continuously provide practical examples for other places in Guangdong Province and the rest of the county to adopt.
All those, according to Qianhai Authority, come from external resources support and internal innovation.
Innovation is the core of Qianhai’s development.
The design of its administration combines the features of the mainland and Hong Kong. Online platforms and one-stop services are provided to reduce procedures, while apps were developed to save time during customs clearance, inspection and quarantine. Hong Kong law practices have been adopted for dealing with cross-border cases and international arbitration practices have been applied to solve disputes.
The area’s urban planning features various breakthroughs. A large subterrain area is under construction where intercity railways and Metro lines are being built.
A “sponge city” concept is underway, preparing the area to implement a water cycle — rain water will be collected and reused for irrigation, city cleaning and more. A big cooling system has been built, and underground shopping malls will be connected with commercial areas and offices above. Internal water landscapes and seashore views will complement new leisure spaces for residents.
Qainhai aims to become a big fintech hub with strict supervision, where financial products, private equity companies, and funding and insurance institutions will thrive. Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Fund Town is set to open for business this month.
It also plans to build a talent pool by attracting innovative people and entrepreneurs from both the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao. Incubators such as Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Youth Innovation and Entrepreneur Hub organizes various events each year, encouraging young people to take part in the mass innovation trend. Science and technology labs have been set up and Qianhai-incubated teams are making differences in the market.
A culturally creative industry has gained support as Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Design & Creative Industry Park is set to open soon.
As a promising land, the Qianhai and Shekou Area of China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone has attracted 124,600 companies to settle there. Their combined output reached 151 billion yuan (US$22 billion) in the first nine months of this year.