Hong Kong and Shenzhen partner to build mega technology park
87-hectare park to boost R&D from large technology players has generated as much enthusiasm as disagreements between local organisations.
Two of China’s most important technology hubs have come together to build a large 13 million sqf innovation and technology park (HK/SZ I&T Park) that will see Hong Kong and Shenzhen put an end to a 20-year-old border dispute.
The two sides have signed a deal to transform Lok Ma Chau Loop, on the Hong Kong side, into the futuristic park that will create “unprecedented” opportunities to both Hong Kong and Shenzhen.
The muddy wetland loop was created in 1997 as a result of works to straighten and improve Shenzhen River’s flow.
Since then, Shenzhen, located in mainland China, has claimed sovereignty over the territory. Shenzhen officials have now said the mainland recognises Lok Ma Chau Loop as part of Hong Kong following the deal.
The “Memorandum of Understanding on Jointly Developing the Lok Ma Chau Loop by Hong Kong and Shenzhen” was signed by the Chief Secretary for Administration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and the Vice Mayor of the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government Ai Xuefeng.
Leung Chun-Ying, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, said: “[The park] will establish itself as a key base for cooperation in innovation and technology research.
“Related higher education, cultural and creative, as well as other complementary facilities, will also be provided at the site, creating an unprecedented space and opportunities for the development of innovation and technology in Hong Kong and Shenzhen.”
The Hong Kong government has been tasked with building the basic infrastructure for the innovation and technology park.
In addition, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), which runs the Sha Tin park, another technology park four times smaller than the one now proposed and home to companies like Huawei, OnePlus, Tencent and ZTE, will be responsible for the build of the project and running of the new development.
Furthermore, a committee with representatives from Shenzhen and Hong Kong will be formed to oversee the project which is expected to create as many as 40,000 jobs.
In a statement, HKSTP said it believes that the HK/SZ I&T Park will attract top-tier enterprises, research institutions as well as higher education institutions in the Mainland and overseas to set up and carry out collaborative researches.
Fanny Law, chairperson of HKSTP, said: “The number of innovation and technology companies is on the increase, creating a strong demand for research and development space and offices.
“The HK/SZ I&T Park will provide land for the long-term development of innovation and technology, thereby enhancing Hong Kong’s attraction to the Mainland and overseas technology enterprises and research institutions.”
Despite being hailed as a project that will bring “unprecedented” opportunities for the region as a whole, the project to build the HK/SZ I&T Park is facing opposition from local enrinonmental groups which has alerted to an eventual “ecological disaster”.
An estimate for how much the project would cost has been given by those involved in the development. Funding approval is still being evaluated by the Legislative Council, government sources said.
Shenzhen builds on tech scene
The news come as companies sitting in Shenzhen start to exit the city due to the high rental prices as the region grows its technology footprint.
One of the companies that is rumoured to be on its way out is Huawei. In 2016, news broke suggesting the company was looking into exiting Shenzhen due to high property prices. The company later refuted saying it was not planning such move.
However, at the closure of 2016, Huawei moved its main data centre out of Shenzhen to Dongguan re-launching rumours that the company might be planning to move its HQ.
Yet, other technology giants like Apple have announced plans to build in Shenzhen. Speaking to Reuters last year, Apple’s spokesperson Josh Rosenstock said the company is planning an R&D building in the Chinese city.
He said: “”We are excited to be opening a new research and development centre here next year  so our engineering team can work even more closely and collaboratively with our manufacturing partners.
“The Shenzhen centre, along with the Beijing centre, is also aimed at strengthening relationships with local partners and universities as we work to support talent development across the country.”