Calls for creation of new SEZ in Shantou
The government should establish a new Shantou special economic zone to include two more cities in Guangdong in order to attract investment and create an additional growth point for regional development, according to a proposal submitted to the 12th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
"At present, the administrative division of these three cities, namely Shantou, Chaozhou and Jieyang, has restricted the local economic development," said Chan King-wai, a member of the National Committee of the CPPCC, the country's top political advisory body.
His proposal was supported by more than 100 other members and submitted jointly.
The port city of Shantou, located in eastern Guangdong province, is one of the country's top five special economic zones. Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Xiamen and Hainan are the other four.
Chaozhou and Jieyang were separated from Shantou in 1991 by the State Council to form two new cities.
Chan said the division has blocked the economic development of the region for years because three different administrative bodies have their own interests. The situation makes it hard to attract overseas Shantou-born Chinese to invest in the area.
There are up to 1.2 million Shantou-born Chinese in Hong Kong, doing business in different sectors. Globally, the number of overseas Shantou-born Chinese is more than 10 million, accounting for one-fifth of all overseas Chinese, according to Chan.
"There are many excellent overseas Shantou-born Chinese entrepreneurs," he said. "It's such a waste that the Shantou special economic zone cannot attract their investments."
Last year, the per capita GDP in Guangdong province reached 54,000 yuan ($8,600), while the figure in Shantou was only 25,000 yuan.
By the end of 2012, the average per capita GDP of the other special economic zones reached 94,500 yuan.
Chan said he believes that the main reason behind Shantou's sluggish development is the administrative division.
Yu Zhengsheng, newly elected as CPPCC chairman, said the proposal is "creative".
Hu Chunhua, a deputy to the National People's Congress and Party chief of Guangdong province, said more efforts will be made to accelerate the healthy and sustainable economic development of the province.
He said during the meetings that Guangdong will continue to be open to domestic and foreign investors and will encourage companies to expand their businesses outside the province and achieve deeper cooperation with companies from Hong Kong and Macao.
Chan, who is also the chairman of the Hong Kong-China Chamber of Commerce and president of the King Wai Group, said companies from the mainland should cooperate closely with Hong Kong companies to expand overseas.
It would be good for State enterprises to cooperate with Hong Kong companies and make good use of Hong Kong as a springboard to go abroad, he said.