On a visit to southern China, the Chinese president marks the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Shenzhen Special Economic Area. He calls for economic and technological self-sufficiency to meet external challenges. Xi wants the coastal city to replace Hong Kong as the country's new economic hub. For the "liberal" wing of the regime, the new reforms are neo-Marxist in nature.
Shenzhen (AsiaNews) – Xi Jinping today celebrated the 40th anniversary of the inauguration of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, one of the engines of Chinese growth, in a keynote speech in which he calls for deeper reforms.
To overcome outside challenges, the Chinese president stressed the need for the country to strengthen the domestic development of new technologies, a veiled reference to the trade war with the United States, which is promoting the worldwide boycott of Chinese hi-tech companies, especially telecommunications giant Huawei.
According to Xi, on a visit to southern China since Sunday, the world is on the verge of unprecedented changes, as evinced by the coronavirus pandemic, the growth of protectionism, unilateralism and security threats; in this context, China will have to rely more and more on itself, especially in innovation.
The president wants a system based on domestic production and consumption. The goal is to move from a high growth economy to high quality.
Shenzhen is seen as a model to be exported to the rest of China (where new special zones will be set up) even if it must solve problems such as the lack of space to develop and inadequate public services. To this end, it will be given greater autonomy in areas deemed key to the success of the new reforms.
The coastal city has to become the core engine for the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, with effects for the "one country, two systems" system, indirectly downgrading Hong Kong, which was so far China’s economic hub and gateway to other countries.
In a speech, Xi reiterated the country’s commitment to reform and opening up, a path laid down 40 years ago by Deng Xiaoping, but he also confirmed that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will lead the development of the economy.
For many analysts, the Chinese leader is actually bent on promoting greater state intervention in the economy.
On 15 September, the CCP issued a directive telling private companies to accept its "leadership". According to the document, the Party will exercise its leadership over private businesses and decide hiring and firing in private companies, effectively paving the way for a return to a planned economy controlled by the state.
Xi’s neo-Marxist orientation has been criticised by the liberal wing of the CCP, which calls for more room to be given to private enterprise and to protect their investments. This is what Li Youwei proposes.
A pro-reform advocate, Li is a former party secretary in Shenzhen in the 1990s, and architect of the city's economic success. Whilst the private economy has grown significantly in China, he notes that it still lacks adequate legal protection.