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Old September 3rd, 2010, 09:03 PM   #61
hkskyline
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Time warp in the shadow of Shenzhen
The Standard
Wednesday, September 01, 2010

I recently visited one of Hong Kong's unusual spots. It is a small rural village on a bay with plenty of woodland and hills and old buildings.

There is a row of two-story shophouses built in the 1930s, a fortified walled village built in the mid- 19th century by a prominent Hakka businessman, a row of 1930s homes built with money sent back by migrants to the Caribbean and a small old temple now used as an office for a local school. I will probably write more about them some time.

Look in one direction and you see a city with high-rise buildings, including some modern, upmarket residential blocks. It feels like you are standing in this city's backyard - it is not far away. But although the village and greenery are in Hong Kong, the urban area is in fact part of Yantian district, in Shenzhen.

You are standing in Sha Tau Kok, right at the eastern end of the boundary with the mainland. It is in the Closed Area - the buffer zone running along the Hong Kong side of the border with the mainland. You need a permit to come here because in some parts, like the famous Chung Ying Street, you cross the border simply by crossing the road.

Traditionally, we think of Hong Kong as busy, urbanized and developed, and the mainland as more rural and developing. In small and quiet Sha Tau Kok, however, it is very clearly the other way around.

Bernard Charnwut Chan, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, sees culture from all perspectives.
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Old November 11th, 2010, 04:08 PM   #62
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Qianhai options - a bait to see if anyone in HK will bite?
9 November 2010
SCMP

Give me any one of these and I can set up an instantly successful special economic zone, too. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that you can leave the competition far behind if you can get your government to kick it out of the way.

Take this suggestion of giving Qianhai a pilot scheme for free convertibility of the yuan. Everyone in China wants to be able to exchange funny money for real money and if one little corner of Shenzhen gets the exclusive nod, that little corner of Shenzhen will undoubtedly grow rich. If I enter the winning Mark 6 number I will win the Mark 6. Hard to figure out how this works, isn't it?

Likewise the suggestion that taxes in Qianhai should be set much lower than taxes elsewhere in China. I like it. I shall try a variant of this idea on the Jockey Club one day. I am prepared to buy a racehorse if the Jockey Club will guarantee my horse a head start of half the length of the race every time it runs.

Well, why not? Why should Qianhai be the only place where people can get that kind of head start? Why not Happy Valley, too? I'll put my hand up for the trial run and if you want to tell me that I am no-one special, well, what is so special about Qianhai?

The place is a stretch of mud on the way to the Shenzhen Airport, which was filled in with excavation muck from other construction sites and declared "reclaimed" long before that muck has had time to settle, a perfect prescription for leaning buildings and cracked walls.

We have a solid foundation here for the Pearl River Delta's new financial centre. I also suspect it was second choice. These things are always murky, of course, but do you remember the Lok Ma Chau Loop?

It is an 87-hectare piece of land that was made Hong Kong territory in 1997 by straightening a loop of the Shenzhen River. The Shenzhen authorities have ever since been in a flying mad rush to develop it into a new centre for the entire delta. But the loop is made up of contaminated mud that can only be removed at prohibitive expense and it has no roads, water, power or any other services. Most telling of all, the Shenzhen authorities forgot to pay off the reigning New Territories bosses, a big mistake. The loop remains mud and grass.

It is also notable that the Shenzhen authorities have been much less noisy about developing it recently. Methinks they've given up and decided to go with that Qianhai site a few kilometres north instead.

It was always puzzling, however, that they should have been so eager to develop the loop and so quiet when asked who owns it. I think it is appropriate to ask the same question about the Qianhai reclamation. Who owns it?

One other question I must ask. Do you boys really think that Beijing will give you a free convertibility zone and big tax cuts just for the asking or is this just bait to see if anyone in Hong Kong will bite? Happy fishing, lads, but I suggest you try a more convincing lure.

We need new thinking to break the conventions. Hong Kong is too small for the advancement of certain research areas like energy saving and new energy development. That local money could not be channelled across the border for research that has the potential to benefit Hong Kong doesn't make sense.

Tai Hay-lap, University Grants Committee

Yes indeed, Mr Tai, we need new thinking here. For instance, could we get a new theme song for academia? The unvarying lyrics of the existing one - "Gimme me more money" - are getting a little tiresome, particularly when never accompanied by even a word of thanks for all the money the public purse has given academia.

But could you also do us a favour and define your meaning of the word "sense"? I would have thought our best option, if Hong Kong is too small for energy research, would be to make use of other people's energy research and concentrate instead on what we can do well.

I would also have thought that a good word for pouring research money down some bottomless hole across the border is "nonsense". Do it with your own money, Mr Tai, but the public purse is also mine.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 03:46 PM   #63
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Hong Kong-Shenzhen Joint Task Force on Boundary District Development holds fifth meeting
Monday, November 22, 2010
Government Press Release

The Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, and the Executive Vice Mayor of the Shenzhen Municipal Government, Mr Lu Ruifeng, convened the fifth meeting of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Joint Task Force on Boundary District Development in Shenzhen today (November 22).

At the meeting, the Hong Kong and Shenzhen authorities agreed to launch concurrently the Stage One Public Engagement of the Planning and Engineering Study on Development of Lok Ma Chau Loop tomorrow (November 23). The public engagement, which will last for two months, aims to seek public views from both Hong Kong and Shenzhen on the preliminary Outline Development Plan for the Lok Ma Chau Loop and development proposals for its surrounding areas, so as to enhance the planning framework.

Regarding the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point project, the Hong Kong and Shenzhen authorities have reached a consensus on the scale of clearance, the mode of co-operation for work projects linking Hong Kong and Shenzhen, and the preparation work for the international design ideas competition for the passenger terminal building. On the Hong Kong side, the study on investigation and preliminary design, the ground investigation and the re-provisioning works for Chuk Yuen Village have begun.

In addition, the Shenzhen authority has approved the proposals for the Boundary Control Point project and is now carrying out the environmental impact assessment as well as drafting the detailed blueprints. According to the current schedule, construction work on the project will commence in Hong Kong and Shenzhen in 2013, with a view to opening the Boundary Control Point not later than 2018.
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Old November 24th, 2010, 07:04 PM   #64
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Varsities eye role in loop education hub
The Standard
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The government says universities in both Shenzhen and Hong Kong, including the University of Hong Kong, have expressed interest in setting up schools in the Lok Ma Chau loop.

According to Planning Department deputy director Ling Kar-kan, the authorities in both cities have launched a two-month consultation on developing the area into a tertiary education hub.

"The best way to enhance the competitiveness in the knowledge- based economy is to nurture professionals capable of working in both places," Ling said.

"Universities in Hong Kong and Shenzhen have expressed interest to us in setting up schools in the zone."

The 88-hectare loop, bounded by the new and old Shenzhen River channel next to Huanggang port, is a closed area with no one living on the land.

Ling said the zone can accommodate up to four education institutes totalling 24,000 students, adding the government will seek views from the public on the mode of operation, and who would run these institutes.

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the University of Hong Kong have all expressed interest.

An HKU spokeswoman said: "The university has submitted proposals to the government to build campuses in Lok Ma Chau. We are now pending responses from the authorities."

The planning department also said the remaining 33-hectare area will be reserved for high technology facilities and cultural and creative industries.

All buildings in the loop will be restricted to a maximum height of 15 stories, Ling said, adding an ecological zone will be included to preserve the existing bird-flight lines in the loop.

Civil Engineering and Development Department chief engineer Liu Chun-san said work on the HK$10 billion infrastructure will start in 2013 and will be completed not later than 2020. All costs will be shared by the Hong Kong and Shenzhen governments, Liu added.
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Old November 26th, 2010, 04:41 AM   #65
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Education hub too large and ecological zone too narrow, says WWF
24 November 2010
South China Morning Post

While toxic mud may no longer be an issue, a green zone mapped out for protecting the flight path of migratory birds has a conservation group worried that it is too small.

The mud, dumped on the land sliced off from Shenzhen during the straightening of the polluted Shenzhen River in the 1990s, was a major obstacle to plans to develop the loop. There were concerns that dumping the mud in Sha Chau would harm the endangered Chinese white dolphin.

However, studies showed the mud was less of a problem than thought, said Liu Chun-san, of the Civil Engineering and Development Department.

Liu said tens of thousands of cubic metres of toxic mud could be deposited in five separate areas and be treated on site at a cost of HK$100 million. The heavy metals in the mud would be solidified with cement and the mud buried without causing more pollution.

But Alan Leung Sze-lun, of WWF Hong Kong, said the environmental concern would be the scale of the education hub. "It is much larger than we expected. The loop lies in the flight path of migratory birds. The ecological zone is simply too narrow," Leung said.
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Old December 2nd, 2010, 05:35 AM   #66
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HK$10b university hub planned for border loop
24,000 students will study at up to four tertiary institutions

24 November 2010
South China Morning Post

An uninhabited pocket of land polluted by toxic mud will be turned into a hub for higher learning, according to the Planning Department.

Up to four new tertiary institutions may be built on the Lok Ma Chau Loop, a swathe of land that will also feature research and development facilities and a nature conservation area, it said. Officials yesterday disclosed details of the plan for the 870,000-square-metre area, which belongs to Shenzhen but is managed by the Hong Kong government. At least five local universities have expressed interest in opening new campuses there.

"The site is ideal for training talent for the Pearl River Delta so that it can compete with the Yangtze River Delta, which has a lot more tertiary institutions," said deputy director of planning Ling Kar-kan.

The loop was carved from Shenzhen's territory during the straightening of the Shenzhen River in the 1990s. Controversy has dogged the site. Developers wanted full-scale building while environmentalists fought for its conservation after cleaning up the toxic mud from industrial waste discharged into the river. The new plan will disappoint both groups. The result of a joint study by the Hong Kong and Shenzhen governments, it will be open for public consultation until January.

Ling said the loop could produce a floor area of 1.2 million square metres for the new education hub. More than half the space, or 720,000 square metres, will be reserved for educational facilities. That space should be enough for one to four institutions to set up a new campus or faculty, or even a new university, Ling said.

The facilities, to open no sooner than 2020, will accommodate 24,000 students, half of whom will live in dormitories on the site. Building the infrastructure is expected to cost about HK$10 billion. It will include new roads, sewage treatment plants and possibly a light-rail system. Hong Kong will pay for most of that but is in negotiation with Shenzhen over possibly sharing the cost.

A University of Hong Kong spokeswoman said it had already handed in a development proposal for the site. "We are interested in setting up a school zone in Lok Ma Chau," she said.

"We are waiting for the results of government research. [The proposal] could help HKU further its development in teaching and research."

Chinese University said the site's geographical proximity to Shenzhen made it ideal for its expansion plan. "We have always hoped to make use of this edge to help cope with the demand for talents from Hong Kong, Shenzhen and the Pearl River Delta," a university spokesman said.

The University of Science and Technology, Baptist University and the Polytechnic University, along with several educational institutions based in Shenzhen, have expressed interest. Ling hopes to attract interest from overseas universities, as well.

The rest of the loop will go to hi-tech research and development, and creative industries. Buildings on the loop will be restricted to 15 storeys or less. To be a low-carbon area, only electric cars and bicycles will be allowed in. The loop will be linked to the Lok Ma Chau boundary control point with a road or light rail system, which will make it a 10-minute journey for commuters to travel to the hub from the control point.

An ecological zone, intended to be a no-go area, will be created along the edge of the loop to preserve the flight paths of migratory birds.

Areas adjoining the loop - covering 182 hectares of land that contain villagers, hills and fish ponds - will see small-scale, commercial developments such as restaurants, shops and guest houses. Across the border, a similar-sized site in Shenzhen, including the Huangguang and Futian ports, will have offices, hotels, exhibition venues and research facilities to support the education hub.

Public forums will be held in Hong Kong and Shenzhen to collect public views.
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Old December 2nd, 2010, 12:01 PM   #67
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Hong Kong is developing really fast.

Is Hong Kong still the richest part from China?
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Old December 15th, 2010, 05:05 AM   #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miguel Portela View Post
Hong Kong is developing really fast.

Is Hong Kong still the richest part from China?
Yes - on a per capita income basis.

Motives behind secret deal for City of Sadness
7 December 2010
SCMP

Rapid population growth and the need to build a new frontier town quickly in Tin Shui Wai led to a secret deal between the government and a consortium of developers, says a scholar who studied the agreement.

The poverty-stricken satellite town, dubbed the "City of Sadness" because of its association with domestic violence, murders and suicides, might have had a happier history were it not for the secret pact in the 1980s to limit commercial development - and the jobs that might have come with it.

The deal, revealed in yesterday's South China Morning Post, ensured retail businesses in government-owned buildings posed no serious competition to those in privately developed sections of the district.

The pact put limits on shops, markets and commercial enterprises in an area that could have sorely used the employment opportunities.

Dr Law Chi-kwong, associate professor in the department of social work and social administration at the University of Hong Kong, explained why the colonial government made such a deal.

Law, one of the few people outside the government to have actually seen the agreement, said: "There was a pressing need to build more new towns in Hong Kong to satisfy the growing population.

"But the government itself was not able to do it without the participation of private developers." He said the government had to rely on the private sector to realise its 10-year housing policy and thus offered incentives to the private sector during the 1970s and '80s to increase development. "To the government, it was a win-win solution to sign the joint venture agreement," he added.

In the 1982 deal, the then-territorial government bought 488 hectares of Tin Shui Wai land for HK$2.3 billion from a consortium called Mightycity, now owned by Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong (Holdings) and China Resources.

The government immediately sold back almost 40 hectares to Mightycity for HK$800 million.

The consortium eventually built private residences, including Kingswood Villas, as well as the Kingswood Ginza mall and the 1,102-room Harbour Plaza Resort city. The government used the remaining land to build public and subsidised housing, together with local-scaled shopping centres and markets. But it also secretly promised not to allow businesses in those areas to become large enough to compete with businesses on the land owned by Mightycity.

Law noted: "The colonial government was not comfortable to see the 488 hectares of land in the hands of Chinese government-controlled China Resources, and thus the government decided to buy back all the lands from Mightycity and entered into a joint venture agreement with them."

A leading member of the Consumer Council said there seemed to be no good commercial reason for the business restrictions placed on the government-developed sections of Tin Shui Wai.

Thomas Cheng, chairman of the council's competition policy committee, said the government had the right to sign any agreement with any private company. But he couldn't see a reason for the authority to conceal a pledge that affected the livelihoods of 270,000 people.

He said: "There was no justifiable reason, from a competition perspective, for the Hong Kong government to sign a private memorandum to protect Mightycity's interest in commercial properties."

He added: "While there may be other policy reasons for signing such a memorandum, these reasons should be explained to the public."
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Old December 16th, 2010, 07:50 AM   #69
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Tung Chung reclamation proposed
11 December 2010
South China Morning Post

As much as 160 hectares of the seabed off Tung Chung on Lantau Island could be filled in to create land for massive residential developments and possibly a theme park.

The reclamation, which officials term a new town extension project, is among studies to be conducted to find land for future housing.

With further reclamation of the harbour largely banned by law, the government is eyeing the New Territories' coastline for new sites.

According to a document tabled at a Legislative Council joint panel meeting yesterday, the Tung Chung project would involve reclamation east and west of Tung Chung new town. Some 120 hectares would be used for property development.

"Residential uses will be the major component of the proposed development with ancillary commercial uses, community facilities and open spaces," the paper, prepared jointly by the Planning Department and Civil Engineering and Development Department, said.

A further 40 hectares of reclaimed land would be reserved for a theme park or other large-scale recreational use under a long-term concept plan.

The development would be inter-related with infrastructure projects, including the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge.

The idea of reclaiming the sea in the New Territories was first touched on by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in his policy address in October.

Tsang said the government would explore proposals "for reclamation on an appropriate scale outside Victoria Harbour to generate more land in the long run".

At yesterday's meeting of the housing and development panels, Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government was determined to boost land supply to stabilise the market. "We are confident that the new residential sites on the 2011-12 application list can produce more than 10,000 flats," she said. Under the application list system, a site is auctioned if a developer makes an initial bid high enough to trigger a sale.

Civic Party legislator Alan Leong Kah-kit asked the government to consider resuming regular land sales.

Housing chief Eva Cheng said about 74,600 public rental flats would be supplied in the five years until 2014-15. Of them, 84 per cent would be in urban areas.
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Old December 17th, 2010, 11:51 AM   #70
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Colonial deal built 'City of Sadness''
6 December 2010
SCMP

To the poor people of Tin Shui Wai, more shops, markets and commercial developments would have meant more jobs close to home.

This could have been the difference between survival and desperation in the "City of Sadness", a place with a long history of family tragedies and abuse.

But a secret deal between the colonial government and a consortium - dubbed "unimaginable by today's standards" by one academic - has, in effect, limited the number of such outlets to this day to ensure that businesses in government buildings did not pose too much competition to those in the district's sole private estate, Kingswood Villas.

Though officials said the agreement was cancelled in 2002, the limits on proper zoning and town planning had been imposed. The undisclosed deal also raises questions whether there might be other secret agreements being kept from the public over the years that might have an impact on today's city planning.

The town of 273,800 residents has more than 9 per cent unemployment, the highest in Hong Kong. They face long and expensive trips to work elsewhere, if they can find jobs.

Under a private memorandum signed between the pre-handover government and developer Mightycity Company, now owned by Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong (Holdings) and China Resources, commercial developments in the government buildings are not allowed to compete with the private shops in any way that would damage their viability.

This has meant that while public and subsidised housing estates occupy the bulk of the town, they have mainly small local-style businesses, shops and markets.

The memorandum even put paid to plans for a permanent market in the public part of the troubled town.

It was part of a deal - never publicly disclosed in full - under which the government bought almost 500 hectares of former fish ponds and farms back from developers 28 years ago at an above-market price then agreed to develop them as a joint venture.

This arrangement, which turned on its head the principle that developers wanting to develop agricultural land have to pay a premium, is also raising eyebrows. "The government's decision to purchase back the land at a premium from developers and the private memorandum are unimaginable by today's standards," said Dr Law Chi-kwong, associate professor in the department of social work and social administration at the University of Hong Kong.

Law, one of the very few people outside the government to have seen the agreement, said he understood only a handful of senior officials had access to it.

The story goes back to 1977 when the Special Committee on Land Production recommended a study on developing Tin Shui Wai.

Sensing an opportunity Mightycity, then owned 51 per cent by China Resources, 12.5 per cent by Li's Cheung Kong and 36.5 per cent by Wheelock Marden, Trafalgar Housing and others, began buying land in 1979, amassing 488 hectares.

Mightycity then approached the government with a proposal to build a new town to house more than half a million people. Its original business plan was to surrender land for public housing in exchange for the government building all the infrastructure.

The proposal was rejected in 1982 but the consortium accepted a better counter offer. On July 29, 1982, Nicky Chan Nai-keong, secretary for lands and works, said the government would pay Mightycity HK$2.258 billion for all the land and grant it almost 40 hectares for HK$800 million.

The government paid HK$46 a square foot, much higher than the valuation calculated from a land auction held by a court in 1980 to determine the value of an unresolved 7 per cent stake in Mightycity.

"The price of the land at HK$46 a sq ft was not low compared with the 1980 auction price at about HK$11.50 a sq ft. Moreover 1980 was a period of property boom while 1982 was a declining year," Lee Chi Ming wrote in an unpublished dissertation in 1987 at the University of Hong Kong.

Under the joint venture deal, inked on July 29, 1982, 169 hectares was designated a development zone, of which 38.8 hectares was granted to Mightycity for a private residential estate and 130 hectares was for public and subsidised housing. The government kept the rest as a land bank.

Cheung Kong and its chairman Li Ka-shing raised their stakes in Mightycity to 48.25 per cent and 0.75 per cent, respectively, in 1988 when the multibillion-dollar project went ahead. Cheung Kong was appointed project manager in the same year.

Mightycity built Kingswood Villas, the only private estate in Tin Shui Wai with 15,880 flats, in phases from 1992 to 1999. It included 75,000 square metres of commercial areas comprising the Kingswood Ginza mall and the 1,102-room Harbour Plaza Resort City.

At the same time the government was restrained from developing a self-sustaining new town by the memorandum stating that it could only develop commercial space as neighbourhood shops in the public housing estates and that "only to such extent as is calculated not to render the commercial accommodation to be provided by [Tin Shui Wai Development Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mightycity] on the 38.8 hectares not commercially viable".

The effects of this were felt in 1988 when the government proposed to build a permanent market in Tin Shui Wai Area 33, which is now a bus terminus and the Central Park Towers. After the developer objected, the plan was changed to a temporary market.

In the Tin Shui Wai Outline Development Plan dated March 1989, the Territory Development Department wrote: "A permanent market was planned on the site ... to cater for the needs of the private residential development. [Mightycity] however objected to it on the grounds that the market may compete with the commercial facility within their private developments."

The department removed the project from its 1993 programme and the market had never been built, a University of Hong Kong study said.

The then Lands and Works Branch has never released the entire joint venture document in 28 years.

But Law said he had seen the document in 2006 when he was a member of the Commission on Poverty.

"I met some housing department officers to find out why the department was unable to build more markets and shopping centres in Tin Shui Wai to stimulate the local economy," he said.

"They leaked to me that they were constrained in developing commercial properties as a result of a private memorandum between the government and Mightycity."

Law then asked a "very senior government official", whom he refused to name, to show him the secret paper, and he understood the Housing Authority had kept one copy.

Replying to inquiries, the Housing Authority did not deny or confirm whether it had a copy, saying only: "The HA is not a party to the `memorandum' mentioned in the question and is not the authority in land administration."

It took the Development Bureau more than two weeks to dig out the document and digest it after being approached by the Post. A spokeswoman said the 1982 agreement was cancelled in 2002, as "there were no outstanding obligations remaining to be fulfilled by any of the parties".

By then, a master development plan for the 318 hectare reserve zone in Tin Shui Wai North had been endorsed in 1995 and the latest outline zoning plan for Tin Shui Wai had been approved in 1998. These plans assigned most of the land for residential purposes, in which 75 per cent was for public housing and the rest for private housing.

The unusual planning strategy left little space for commercial activities and what does exist, comprising 61,000 square metres of floor area, was sold to The Link in 2005.

Cheung Kong did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
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Old December 18th, 2010, 04:56 AM   #71
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that's so scandalous
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Old December 21st, 2010, 06:29 PM   #72
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Low-carbon lifestyle within reach,but will HK grasp the opportunity?
Pilot project, awareness needed for green new towns to be reality

4 December 2010
South China Morning Post

Hong Kong is well placed to establish low-carbon communities, but a lack of pilot projects and low public awareness of their potential means the opportunity could be missed.

That's the assessment of a professional who has pioneered such communities elsewhere in the world. It comes as the city prepares for big new developments at West Kowloon and Kai Tak, as well as three new towns in the New Territories.

The government pledged in 2008 to design three new development areas in the New Territories - Kwu Tung North, Fan Ling North, and Ta Kwu Ling - to have minimal carbon emissions. Little progress has so far been reported publicly but an engineering study is being conducted to explore the feasibility and the extent of the designs.

Chris Twinn, a veteran engineer who started one of the first zero-carbon residential projects in London 10 years ago, said that, in order to pave the way for such developments, the government should first demonstrate the feasibility of the concept to developers with a small-scale residential project.

"Developers will not make a financial commitment until they have seen the details of what it means and submit tenders. Otherwise, it involves an enormous cost premium, which will be mostly an innovation cost," said Twinn, a director of the global engineering firm Ove Arup which is conducting a site engineering study and will propose land uses for the three new towns.

He said Hong Kong residents also needed to know more about the energy they were using as they consumed it. Since electricity meters were installed outside their apartments and were difficult to reach, occupants were generally not aware of how much they were using until they got their bills.

"Until they know where and how energy is being used, homeowners will not know how to reduce their energy consumption. Many don't realise, for instance, that boiling water uses a lot more energy than, say, watching TV."

Government design rules for the new towns, which are expected to accommodate more than 130,000 people, will require developments to be green and sustainable.

For example, neighbourhoods should be within walking distance of each other to encourage high pedestrian activity, reduce car dependency, and promote cycling. Twinn, who is also advising the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park on how to achieve zero-carbon emissions in its phase three development, said it would be a green prototype for commercial developments.

But Hong Kong needed another pilot project for residential developments to reduce the initial development costs and leave developers with no easy excuses. Public land in the location where the three new towns were to be sited would provide a suitable place for a demonstration.

"You want it on a small development and then large developments copy it," he said.

Relying on wind, solar power and a power unit that burns wood chips to generate energy, Twinn's 2001 project in Beddington was one of the few residential developments in London to achieve zero-carbon emissions - not adding any additional carbon into the atmosphere.

The community, powered by renewable energy such as solar, provides charging points for electric vehicles and a car sharing programme was set up to discourage the use of private cars.

Bill savings have become an attraction of the apartments and owners generally enjoy a 15 per cent higher resale value than similar-sized properties in the same area.

"Residents can bring in electricity from the grid at night, but their site should generate electricity from its renewable sources during the day equivalent to what it took at night and feed it back to the grid," said Twinn.

The project, on a small scale, cost 30 per cent more than usual to cover costs such as triple-glazed windows. To ensure its viability, the government allowed it a lower land premium and it was undertaken by a charitable housing association.

Twinn said the development costs of similar zero-carbon projects nowadays were much lower - 10 per cent higher than normal projects - as they could follow the pilot project.

The British government's policy target of decarbonising the grid by generating 80 per cent of energy with renewable sources by 2050 also forces developers to build communities that emit less carbon.

Twinn said Hong Kong had waste that could be used to produce renewable energy. "But you also need to reduce your energy demand dramatically, say halve it. The city can't be business as usual any more."

Next year the British government will initiate a plan requiring every household to install a smart meter within 10 years. This will show both occupants and power companies the amount of energy consumed by major electrical appliances and the amount of renewable energy generated from their homes.

Twinn said suppliers of fridges and washing machine were now considering designs that would connect the appliances to the smart meter via a wireless sensor.

"You've got a meter and you put on the kettle, suddenly, the meter is moving fast, that is getting people to realise their lifestyle and choices and influence them," he said.

A similar idea has been proposed in another carbon neutral project in Dongtan, Shanghai. Residents will have their smart meter installed in the kitchen and their electricity bills will be tripled if their consumption exceeds the maximum amount allowed.

Without defining exactly how low a low-carbon community should be, the Hong Kong government said it would release recommended development plans for the three new towns early next year for a final public consultation.

The Planning Department is also considering raising the development density in Fan Ling North and Kwu Tung North, from buildings of about 10 storeys to not more than 18 storeys, to meet increasing housing demand.

Twinn said green infrastructure in larger-scale developments would enjoy much lower running costs, adding that Hong Kong should aim at achieving zero-carbon emissions in new communities.

"There is a learning curve but I don't think it's necessarily that much more difficult for Hong Kong," he said. "The issue is a route map. You don't have to achieve zero carbon in the first year. Low carbon isn't defined. Low energy just means slightly lower than it would have been otherwise. It's very difficult to hold people to a target. It requires political will, an open grid and a good demonstration," he added.

British power companies are required to open their grids and pay for the electricity generated from different residential and commercial sites.

Arup deputy chairman Andrew Chan Ka-ching, president of the Hong Kong Green Building Council, said the new town projects under consideration would require cross-departmental co-operation and they could be developed as an example for the city and the region.

He said the construction and operation of an environment-friendly transport system and district cooling system would be uneconomical if they were not widely used.

"The government should invite major players like the MTR and the Urban Renewal Authority to take a leading role in building green communities, or requiring new developments to use the systems through land lease conditions."

He also urged the government to set clear goals for the new towns and conduct studies to find out which energy targets are feasible.

The chief executive of the Green Building Council of Australia, Romilly Madew, said Hong Kong should move beyond individual green buildings to green communities.

"You have green principles for Kai Tak and West Kowloon, but how do you know the government and developers are going to do it? It's important to ensure the policies are in place so that you can monitor and measure their performance."

The Australian government has recently regenerated an old shipping terminal in Sydney, similar to Kai Tak, into a green star community. Under the green star rating, the district is required in principle to embrace environment-friendly designs, enhance residents' quality of life, create economic opportunities, and to be governed by visionary leadership and sustainable financing models. A rating tool is being developed to assess which communities are eligible for a green star and track their performances over time.

"Don't make it a missed opportunity. Use those two areas as an opportunity to showcase green precincts in Hong Kong," Madew said. "Creating a behavioural change is all about empowering the public with information. They won't want a big bay window and a grand marble lobby if you tell them they will cost you this much energy."
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Old January 11th, 2011, 03:35 PM   #73
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Parting praise for landfill
5 January 2011
SCMP

Reclamation would be a great answer for Hong Kong's construction waste, says John Chai Sung-veng, the outgoing director of the Civil Engineering and Development Department.

Chai, who retires tomorrow after a 32-year career in the civil service, said Hongkongers should reconsider their aversion to landfills.

Although there was a consensus that Victoria Harbour should be narrowed no further, reclamation could be suitable in other areas such as Tuen Mun West and Yam O, he said.

"Now the public becomes very defensive when they hear reclamation, but they need to be more sensible," he said. "There are differences between reclamation based on careful consideration and casual reclamation."

Hong Kong generates six to 10 million tonnes of construction waste a year. Unlike other rubbish which is of little use, construction waste is stored in fill banks for future reclamation.

The two fill banks in Tseung Kwan O and Tuen Mun have reached their maximum capacity. Since 2007, new waste has been transported to the mainland for reclamation.

Chai said the waste helped reclaim 300 hectares of land in Taishan , Guangdong. "If that piece of land were in Hong Kong, it would be so great."

Although it seemed perfect to transport waste to where more land was needed, Chai said the cost for Hong Kong to do so was very high and the city would see no economic benefit. Chai will succeeded by Hon Chi-keung.
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Old January 19th, 2011, 05:21 PM   #74
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New town set to be a cut above 'City of Sadness'
19 January 2011
South China Morning Post



The proposed Hung Shui Kiu new town will be less densely populated and have fewer public housing estates than its embattled neighbour Tin Shui Wai, dubbed the "City of Sadness".

The government said yesterday that it would spend more than HK$70 million on a study into the development of the area between Tuen Mun and Tin Shui Wai, long identified as the location of a new town.

"The building density in Tin Shui Wai is too high, and there are too many public estates," a spokesman for the Planning Department said, adding that the new town would be better planned and provide a higher quality living environment.

The spokesman said the plot ratio in the new town centre would be about 5.0, markedly lower than the ratio of more than 6.5 in existing new towns such as Tin Shui Wai and Tseung Kwan O.

Plot ratio defines the total floor area of buildings permitted on a site. It is calculated by dividing the net floor area of all buildings on the site by the net site area

Private sector housing would make up about 60 per cent of housing in the new town. In Tin Shui Wai, more than 60 per cent of housing is public.

The spokesman said Hong Kong was in urgent need of new towns in order to increase the supply of housing and prevent property prices from continuing to climb.

"The need to develop new towns is pressing. We have to address the long-term housing demand and create jobs," he said.

The 790-hectare site will provide homes for about 160,000 people, along with local shops and community facilities. New business and industrial developments will create 48,000 jobs.

The new town could be used to develop "special industries", such as hi-tech production, logistics and high-value-added manufacturing, given its proximity to Shenzhen and the Qianhai development, the spokesman said.

The State Council has designated Qianhai as a "Hong Kong-Shenzhen modern service industries co-operation zone".

The department plans to seek funding from the Legislative Council in the second quarter of this year and begin the three-year study in August.

The study will assess land use and its impact on the environment, cultural heritage, traffic, infrastructure engineering, ventilation, landscape and urban design, and will eventually bring forward proposals on how the site should be used, the spokesman added. It will also look at the feasibility of a new MTR station between Tin Shui Wai and Siu Hong.

Depending on the results of the survey, construction work will begin in 2019 and the new town will welcome its first citizens by 2023.

More than 60 per cent of the land at the site of the proposed town is privately owned, and about 25,000 people live there. About 30 per cent of the land is used as open storage, 20 per cent is in residential use and 13 per cent is agricultural land.

There are 25 villages in the proposed development site, of which 19 are inhabited by indigenous villagers.

The spokesman said the department hoped the new town would not affect indigenous villagers and said it would try to minimise the impact on squatters. But he conceded that "land acquisitions and demolitions would be inevitable".

Hung Shui Kiu was first identified as suitable for new development in 2000, but the plan was shelved because of slow population growth.

But Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen announced in his 2007 policy address that the new town would be one of 10 major infrastructure projects designed to promote economic growth.
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Old January 31st, 2011, 08:28 AM   #75
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`City of sadness' repeat ruled out
19 January 2011
The Standard

There will be no repeat of Tin Shui Wai when an area of Yuen Long is developed into a new town, the government said.

Hung Shui Kiu in the northwest New Territories is being lined up to accommodate at least 160,000 residents.

The ratio of public and private housing in the once rural area will be kept at 4:6, a spokesman for the Planning Department said yesterday.

At neighboring Tin Shui Wai, about 70 percent of homes are public housing.

``We will not follow the same proportion of housing mix in Tin Shui Wai to minimize social problems,'' he said.

Tin Shui Wai has been dubbed the ``city of sadness'' for its high rate of unemployment and suicides. Government figures show 80 percent of its 270,000 residents are on social welfare.

Gary Chan Hak-kan, a member of the Legislative Council housing panel, said: ``The problem with Tin Shui Wai is that there are insufficient community facilities, such as family counseling centers for the grassroots.

``A balanced housing mix is very important for sustainable development of a new town.''

Kwong Yuet-sum, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Tin Shui Wai Women Association and a Yuen Long district councillor, said the spending power of those in private housing can help boost employment opportunities in the community and therefore minimize the unemployment problems of isolated new towns.

The 790-hectare proposed site, located between Tuen Mun and Tin Shui Wai, currently has a population of 25,000 and is mostly village and agricultural land.

A government spokesman said it will become a low-density residential area with the industrial potential to increase economic integration between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

The government will apply to the Legco Finance Committee for HK$70.4 million to conduct a three-year study with a view to starting construction in 2019.

A West Rail station at Hung Shui Kiu will be completed before the first batch of residents move in in 2024, the spokesman added.

At the new town site, 64 percent of land is now under private ownership and there are 25 scattered villages, 19 of which are indigenous. The spokesman said efforts will be made to minimize the impact on locals.
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Old February 14th, 2011, 04:12 PM   #76
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North Lantau Hospital Phase I Foundation Laying Ceremony
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Government Press Release



The following is issued on behalf of the Hospital Authority:

The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, today (January 20) officiated at the Foundation Laying Ceremony of North Lantau Hospital Phase I. The new hospital is being constructed to cope with the development of North Lantau New Town and its growing population, and is also in the proximity of Hong Kong International Airport and some major tourist facilities situated on Lantau Island. A funding of HK$2.48 billion was approved by the Legislative Council in December 2009 to support the establishment of North Lantau Hospital Phase I. The construction works commenced in January 2010 and are expected to be completed by December 2012.

Accompanying the Chief Executive at the ceremony were the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow; Hospital Authority Chairman, Mr Anthony Wu; Hospital Authority Chief Executive, Dr Leung Pak-yin; Director of Architectural Services, Mrs Marigold Lau; Chairman of Islands District Council, Mr Daniel Lam and Chief Executive of Kowloon West Cluster, Dr Nancy Tung.

North Lantau Hospital Phase I occupies about 1.9 hectares in Tung Chung Area 25. It will comprise a seven-storey C-shaped block atop a single storey podium, with provision of 160 in-patient beds and 20 day beds for ambulatory care services including an accident and emergency (A&E) department, specialist out-patient clinics, primary care clinics, a day rehabilitation centre and an ambulatory surgery centre. The in-patient and out-patient services will also be supported by state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment facilities, such as an emergency laboratory, radiology suite, computed tomography scanner, ultrasound scanner and blood bank.

In addition, there will be a variety of community care services comprising community geriatric assessment service, a psychiatric outreaching team, community nursing services, patient resources centre, community health education, medical social services, and so on, ensuring proper care for patents and also enhancing the health of the community.

The North Lantau Hospital Project is being taken forward in two phases. The facilities and services of Phase I will be sufficient to meet the demand for public hospital services for the projected population on Lantau Island by 2015. To cope with the long-term development and population growth on Lantau Island, the Government will explore the feasibility of public-private-partnership for Phase II of the North Lantau Hospital project.
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Old February 17th, 2011, 03:37 PM   #77
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Public and lawmakers demand details of mystery regional plan
8 February 2011
SCMP

An ambitious joint study by Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau has proposed building a new town in North Lantau, a cross-border checkpoint in the West Kowloon arts hub and new cultural villages in Tai O and Fanling to attract tourists.

And crowded Central, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay will transform into low-carbon areas with priority given to pedestrians over vehicles.

The study is titled "The Action Plan for the Bay Area of the Pearl River Estuary" and was jointly produced by authorities in Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, Dongguan , Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Zhongshan , with the aim of upgrading the region's quality of life.

However, the 18-page public consultation digest - and the 45-page Powerpoint document that goes with it - aims high but is short on detail.

The document has gone unnoticed - at least until recently - with the Planning Department only making a brief statement about it in mid-January before launching a one-month public consultation.

But now, more than 7,000 people have expressed concerns about it and joined a Facebook petition urging the government to extend its public consultation, which is to close on Thursday.

Lawmakers have complained they were not consulted on the plan. The Legislative Council has not received information about it.

"We do not accept our future being decided without us having a fair say," Chan Kim-ching, who started the Facebook campaign, said. "We are also uncertain about whether it is a genuine consultation. The Northern Link is still under study. But they have included it in the action plan. Does it mean the government will build it for sure?"

The action plan is one of several attempts at better integrating Hong Kong, Macau and the mainland.

The State Council has outlined a plan for the Pearl River Delta region between 2008 and 2020.

Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau jointly commissioned Peking University and Guangdong Urban and Regional Planning and Design Institute to report on the issues between March and April last year.

Under the action plan, the region will become a "bay for quality living", building on an advanced public transport network, residential communities with diversified housing types and adequate infrastructure and facilities. It also wants the region to excel in scientific research and development, boost its service sector and expand as a financial and transport hub.

Details of the plan relating to Hong Kong were not included in the text, but low-resolution maps included in the document show a new town in northern Lantau, a cross-border checkpoint in West Kowloon, cultural villages at Tai O and Fanling, and a low-carbon emission plan for Central, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay.

The Northern Link and the express rail connecting Hong Kong and Shenzhen airports, though still under study, are also included.

Authorities in Macau and Guangdong will co-ordinate land use and development of 500 hectares of Macau land - whose reclamation was approved by Beijing in December 2009 - and the business district in Henqin, Zhuhai. The new plan envisages a Zhuhai-Macau industrial zone as a logistics and exhibition centre.

Lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan has demanded an explanation from the Planning Department as to why the Legislative Council was excluded from the exercise.

Paul Zimmerman of Designing Hong Kong urged the government to publish the full report, in English, and criticised the Planning Department's lack of attempt to engage the non-Chinese speaking community in Hong Kong. "The information available is not the full report," he said. "It doesn't even have the population of each city involved in the study. I understand the study was conducted in Chinese. But the Planning Department should translate the materials into English so everyone in Hong Kong can participate in the discussion."

A Planning Department spokeswoman said the government would continue to listen to public responses to the plan.
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Old February 19th, 2011, 08:19 AM   #78
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Extension of deadline for expression of interest in Queen's Hill site
Friday, February 18, 2011
Government Press Release

The Education Bureau today (February 18) announced that the deadline for expression of interest in the development of self-financing tertiary education at the Queen's Hill site (the Site) will be extended to May 31, 2011.

The Education Bureau in December last year invited expression of interest for the development of self-financing tertiary education at the Site. A spokesman for the Bureau said "Having considered the encouraging response received so far and institutions' feedback that more time is needed to consider development proposals and prepare responses, the bureau has decided to extend the deadline by two months to May 31, 2011."

"The expression of interest exercise is open to local and non-local institutions/organisations and other interested parties. The tertiary institution(s) to be operated at the Site should be non-profit-making and run on a self-financing basis. We estimate that the Site will provide a gross floor area of more than 100,000 square metres and is suitable for the development of self-financing tertiary institution(s) with boarding facilities. The Site may provide some 8,000 self-financing places."

Reply form for the expression of interest can be downloaded from the website of the Information Portal for Accredited Self-financing Post-secondary Programmes (www.ipass.gov.hk/eng/eoi.aspx). Interested parties may express interest by submitting the reply form by May 31, 2011 to the Further Education Division, Education Bureau, 11/F, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. The reply form can also be submitted by fax to (852) 2899 2967 or by email to [email protected].
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Old March 6th, 2011, 04:37 PM   #79
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HK law may rule in Qianhai test zone
6 March 2011
SCMP

Hong Kong lawyers may be allowed to mediate in disputes between Hong Kong and mainland companies under plans for Qianhai, a strip of land near the border that Shenzhen aims to use as an economic test lab.

Although details are sketchy, a draft law submitted to Shenzhen's legislature could see some of Hong Kong's legal procedures adopted in the 15-square-kilometre zone in Shekou .

The idea includes allowing permanent Hong Kong residents to serve as adjudicators - the closest thing to a jury under the mainland's legal system - in legal proceedings involving Hong Kong companies.

This is one of a range of bold suggestions in the draft aimed at helping Qianhai become a "Hong Kong-Shenzhen service industries co-operation zone".

The draft, submitted to the standing committee of the Shenzhen People's Congress on February 24, is expected to be endorsed by the end of the year.

Hong Kong Law Society president Huen Wong hopes Qianhai - the "special zone within the special economic zone" - can go further.

The National Development and Reform Commission had previously suggested setting up a means by which companies operating in Qianhai could get legal advice from Hong Kong lawyers.

Some Hong Kong lawyers had been looking for ways to apply common law principles in Qianhai, as Shenzhen authorities had pledged to use the zone as a testing ground for initiatives not tried elsewhere on the mainland.

Wong said the Qianhai development blueprint reminded him of the concept for the Dubai International Financial Centre, which had its own civil and commercial laws modelled closely on common law principles.

Qiu Mei, a Shenzhen deputy to the National People's Congress, says she will table to the NPC a proposal for a special court in Qianhai where "some of Hong Kong's laws and court procedures could be adopted".

Wong said he had heard some mainland officials had reservations about applying common law there.

The Law Society's council endorsed on Tuesday a list of services it wants to see Hong Kong lawyers provide in Qianhai. It will submit the list to the National Development and Reform Commission soon.

"I think it's a legitimate expectation that the mainland authorities would allow greater flexibility for Hong Kong lawyers in Qianhai than in the rest of the country under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement," Wong said.

The society's proposals included allowing Hong Kong law firms to forge full partnerships with mainland counterparts. Wong said the society also hoped Hong Kong lawyers would be allowed to provide mediation in Qianhai as an alternative to litigation for resolving disputes.

The society's wish list included the establishment of a World Trade Organisation dispute-resolution centre in the pilot zone.

Wong also wanted Qianhai to be a testing ground for two concepts that have been implemented in Britain but not in Hong Kong - the alternative business structure and legal disciplinary practices.

The alternative business structure allows lawyers and non-lawyers to establish a firm offering a "one-stop shop" of integrated legal and other professional services such as insurance, real estate or banking.

Legal disciplinary practices are law firms providing the type of services offered by solicitors and notaries, but up to 25 per cent of the staff can be non-lawyer partners.

Guo Wanda , vice-president of the Shenzhen-based China Development Institute, said applying some Hong Kong law in Qianhai could help lure foreign and Hong Kong-capital firms to invest. But he said a full-scale application of Hong Kong law might not be realistic.
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Old March 19th, 2011, 06:04 AM   #80
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'Manhattan' of delta sets its sights high
19 March 2011
South China Morning Post

It is empty land now. Most of it has been flattened, waiting for construction. About a fifth of the 15 square kilometres has not been touched.

Apart from a few temporary prefabricated houses and the criss-crossing of newly-laid roads, the area is essentially a void, bracketed by two of the world's busiest cities, Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

Yet in a decade or two, this narrow strip of wasteland will be the site of a gleaming new town - Qianhai .

Shenzhen's government, in a plan that has Beijing's blessing, is laying ambitious plans for a "Manhattan of the Pearl River Delta", a beating heart for a dynamic regional economic powerhouse.

Qianhai, with Nansha in Guangzhou and Hengqin in Zhuhai , is written into China's 12th five-year plan for 2011 to 2015 as a test ground of strategic importance.

Guangdong authorities hope that by granting Qianhai the liberty to experiment with new ideas in governance and economic policy, the new special zone will push the Pearl River Delta to a new levels of prosperity, much as Shenzhen did for China in the past three decades,

They are talking about granting Qianhai taxation and administrative autonomy, setting up a new anti-corruption body similar to Hong Kong's ICAC and even establishing a new court that will adopt some of Hong Kong's judiciary practices and laws.

The Qianhai special zone will be run by an 11-member administration committee - two of them from Hong Kong, although selected by the Shenzhen government.

Advocates say the blend will combine the best of two worlds - the mainland's production efficiency with Hong Kong's transparency and checks and balances - to create a magnet for foreign investment.

But many doubt the two systems can be so easily united.

"For example, we are told Qianhai will have an ICAC-like body to supervise the operation of the administration committee," said Dr Fang Zhou, assistant chief research officer of the One Country Two Systems Research Institute, based in Hong Kong.

"But we really don't know how independent this new body will be from the Communist Party and if it will really be able to tackle the high-level corruption problem.

"It's very difficult, if not altogether impossible, to incorporate Hong Kong's laws and court practice [with the mainland legal system]."

Ultimately, Qianhai's success will be judged by how much new investment it can pull in and if it can really blaze a new trail of governance.

On investment, Qianhai already looks like a winner. Zheng Hongjie, director of the Qianhai management bureau, said 34 companies had signed agreements of co-operation to set up business and more than 50 large companies were in talks.

Zheng expected as many as five major investors would sign contracts with them this year.

China Investment Corp is said to be preparing to bankroll some of Qianhai's development, business magazine Caijing reported.

CIC has proposed teaming up with the Shenzhen government to develop between 6 per cent and 13 per cent of Qianhai's land.

The report said CIC could then sell its share of the joint venture to foreign investors.

But to some, Qianhai is nothing more than a clever device for Shenzhen to attract investment and milk preferential policies from Beijing.

"By collaborating with Hong Kong, it can get more relaxed policies to develop financial business, offshore RMB centres, fundraising and other services businesses," Fang said.

"Now, with public endorsement from the State Council and by being written into the country's five-year plan, Shenzhen can negotiate with powerful central organs like the China Banking Regulatory Commission, the People's Bank of China or the State Administration of Taxation on a stronger footing."

Mainland authorities have promised that Qianhai will have greater legal and administrative autonomy as a "special zone within the special economic zone" of Shenzhen. But they have still to work out details.

Shenzhen will finalise most of Qianhai's laws, regulations and its tax regime by the end of this year.

Zheng said the first joint conference bringing together the National Development and Reform Commission, State Council, top officials from Hong Kong, Guangdong province and Shenzhen would probably be held in the second half of the year.

They will try to flesh out policies for the zone's administration.

Mainland media reported that the layout of Qianhai and its infrastructure were finalised after the government consulted with 10 international planning agencies.

The blueprint is expected to be approved by Shenzhen authorities by June.

Additional reporting by Fanny W. Y. Fung in Beijing
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