It's all go for HK-Shenzhen tech park

Top News | Flora Chung 4 Jan 2017

Hong Kong and Shenzhen have agreed to jointly develop an innovation and technology park on the long-disputed 87-hectare Lok Ma Chau Loop on the SAR's northern border to help boost the technological development of both cities.

With an area four times larger than Hong Kong Science Park in Tai Po, the new park is expected to be the largest innovation and technology platform ever established in Hong Kong.

While technology talents from Shenzhen and Hong Kong will be sharing the new park, lawmakers remained skeptical on how the SAR government will ensure a smooth daily entry into Hong Kong by mainland personnel.

Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Shenzhen vice-mayor Ai Xuefeng signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday on the Hong Kong/Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park project, which will be established as a key base for cooperation in innovation and technology research between the two cities.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying described the collaborative project as an effort of the SAR government to attract top enterprises, research institutions and higher-education institutes in both places to station in the city.

"Hong Kong and Shenzhen can take advantage of each other [through the project]," Shenzhen Mayor Xu Qin said, noting that Shenzhen has a desirable business environment for the development of advanced technology, while Hong Kong has the international talents.

The total building area of the park will be 1.2 million square meters, with more than 90 percent of the land dedicated to facilities for the development of innovative technology including robotics, bio-medicine, smart city and financial technology.

The remainder will be for commercial use.

Lam said the revenue earned will go into its long-term development and will not be a property-development venture.

The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation will set up a subsidiary company responsible for building the superstructure and operating the park. The project will create about 40,000 positions, government sources said.

The government will finalize the park's outline zoning plans and ask for funding approval from the Legislative Council.

Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks chief executive Albert Wong Hak- keung said it will take five to six years to form the land, with the first building completed within eight years.

The signing of the memorandum was seen as a breakthrough signifying that the land use issue of the Loop arising from the Shenzhen River training works in 1997 has been resolved.

But it raises questions on how the SAR government will control the border. Lam suggested issuing "business travel cards" to personnel eligible to enter the park.

Founder of B-Free Technology Alan Lee Siu-lun hoped there would be rent reduction offers at the Lok Ma Chau Loop, pointing out that start-up companies do not have to pay rent at the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks for the first year and that there is a 50 percent rent reduction for the second and third years. This could significantly alleviate financial pressure on start-ups, Lee said.

Information technology sector lawmaker Charles Mok said: "I hope this will not create a gap, whether intentionally or unintentionally, allowing an influx of personnel [to the SAR]."

Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi- wai urged the government to consult the public and consider any impact on border control laws.

The Lok Ma Chau loop, originally a part of Shenzhen, is now located within the Hong Kong border at the south of Shenzhen River following engineering work in the area 10 years ago.

The Shenzhen government had insisted for many years that it owned the land, while the SAR government said it should manage the land as it was located within the city's border.

It was not until last month that the two cities reached an agreement on the land issue.

It means that the SAR government will be the owner of the site and that Hong Kong laws will be exercised in the area.

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