The Chinese state leader overseeing Hong Kong affairs and the creation of the Greater Bay Area has urged closer cooperation between the city and neighbouring Shenzhen in developing legal services, Xinhua has reported.
Vice-Premier Han Zheng made the remarks during a weekend visit to Qianhai, an economic zone in southwest Shenzhen that Beijing recently announced would undergo a massive expansion aimed at creating a “world-class” service hub with even greater Hong Kong involvement.
Han stressed the importance of ensuring Qianhai had an “international business environment that is market-oriented and with the rule of law”, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.
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During a stop at the local court, he told cadres “it is necessary to speed up the integration of regulations and legal mechanisms in the Greater Bay Area and cultivate more professional talents … so as to cooperate with Hong Kong to build an international legal service centre and an international commercial dispute resolution centre”.
Han also emphasised the importance of protecting and promoting intellectual property rights.
The Greater Bay Area plan, spearheaded by President Xi Jinping, calls for uniting Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen and eight other Guangdong cities into a finance and technological powerhouse by 2035.
Under the new blueprint for Qianhai, the zone will grow in size from about 15 sq km (3,705 acres) to more than 120 sq km, with about a third of the new area reserved for Hong Kong investors. The goal is to deepen financial reforms and offer a “wider stage” for Hong Kong to grow its economy.
Han called on Shenzhen to make better use of its neighbour’s modern service industry when planning its development so as to create “a new highland for the country’s opening-up to the outside world”, according to the report.
Separately, Hong Kong Law Society president Chan Chak-ming said local lawyers should seize opportunities offered by the Greater Bay Area and Qianhai.
“Hong Kong lawyers will have an edge as Hong Kong adopts the common law system,” Chan told an informal gathering of the media. “Our services will be of much use if mainland businesses want to go out to explore the international market. In this sense, we are not easily replaceable.”
Towards that end, Hong Kong lawyers should take the mainland qualification examination, he added.
Han is a member of the standing committee of the party’s political bureau and head of the leading group for developing the Greater Bay Area.
He was in Hengqin last Friday to officiate at the inauguration ceremony of the Administrative Organisations of the Guangdong-Macau In-depth Cooperation Zone. Like the Qianhai plan, the Hengqin scheme seeks closer ties between Zhuhai and Macau.
Han met Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in Shenzhen last Saturday and called on her to ensure three key elections, including the Election Committee poll that was held on Sunday, proceeded smoothly. The Legislative Council election is slated for December and the chief executive one for March.
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