Northern Metropolis: where Hong Kong's 'most vital' meets Shezhen's 'most powerful'

The new plan will provide housing for 2.5 million people and tune Hong Kong's lucrative financial markets with Shenzhen's powerful tech.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

By GE Zhenwei


A new city of 2.5 million people will bring Hong’s fast-growing tech sector closer yet to Shenzhen, according to a plan revealed by Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Carrie Lam on October 6. The entire Greater Bay will be enriched as Hong Kong's financial expertise meets Shenzhen’s special skills.

The underdeveloped area of 300 square kilometers bordering on the mainland will be transformed into a hive of high-tech activity. Thousands of new homes will directly address the city’s housing shortage, while the entire venture is set to create 650,000 jobs, Lam said in her policy address. 

If HK is to hold its own as a global financial center, new synergy with the technical might of Shenzhen can do nothing but strengthen an already strong hand, said HU Gang, a professor from Jinan University. The “Northern Metropolis” will be a natural stepping stone between Shenzhen’s tech and Hong Kong's own financial district to the south.

The northern part of Hong Kong is less densely populated than the southern districts, despite previous development efforts. Lam said the plan would see the area grow into Hong Kong’s “most vibrant” in the next 20 years.

Hong Kong has finally committed to a future as a global tech hub. This is major progress for both cities. The new engine of Hong Kong’s economy will be driven by technology. Innovation centers south of the border have the chance to exploit a brimming talent pool in the north: Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Zone. 

There are already seven border crossings on the 30-kilometer frontier between two sides, connected by a bustling rail and highway network. With neither timeline nor budget, Lam spoke of the “grand vision” that would bring Hong Kong substantial long-term benefits.

The major stumbling block will be the high price of taking control of the land. Legal and environmental costs loom, not to mention difficulties in obtaining the land itself. Much of the area has already been subject to various development plans and is owned or encumbered by numerous legal arrangements.

The collaboration between top-university research power, world-class financial institutions, and well-established market mechanisms are based on two well-established historical facts. Shenzhen turns ideas into products: Hong Kong turns products into money.

Hong Kong and Shenzhen will need to work closely to set aside their own rules and agendas. Ownership structure, proposed use, financial prospects, and funding methods all provide their own challenges and rewards.