Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has thrown her weight behind growing calls for budding enterprises from the SAR to jump on the vast opportunities offered across the border, particularly in Shenzhen's Qianhai special economic zone.
Her call came amid indications that Hong Kong businesses have been cool to investing in the zone on a slew of concerns, including Qianhai's overall operating climate, standardization of international business procedures and legal matters.
"Qianhai can, not only promote the development of Shenzhen, but also support Hong Kong's continued stability and prosperity," Lam told an annual meeting of the advisory committee of the Qianhai Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen on Monday.
The SAR government, she said, would like to see more companies and professionals from the SAR develop their operations on the mainland. To encourage more young Hong Kong people to do that, Lam said entrepreneurs in the special economic zone can apply for aid under a 300-million-yuan ($47.1 million) fund that will be set up later by the SAR government.
The Qianhai zone, which has been in operation for almost five years, is part of the ambitious China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ), which was launched in April this year and also covers Hengqin in Zhuhai and Guangzhou's Nansha district.
But, so far, just slightly more than 2,300 firms from Hong Kong have set up shop in Qianhai - only some 4 percent of the 60,500-odd enterprises that have registered in the zone.
Monday's meeting was also attended by Hua Jianmin, director of the advisory committee and former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress; Shenzhen Party Secretary Ma Xingrui; and Shenzhen Mayor Xu Qin.
Lam pushes for bigger HK role in Qianhai
At present, the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Youth Innovation and Entrepreneur Hub, which was officially launched in December 2013, provides rent-free offices for startups from both Shenzhen and the SAR.
By late last month, 104 startups have enrolled in the hub - about half of them from Hong Kong.
Lam said the close cooperation between Shenzhen and Hong Kong has brought satisfactory results in the finance and professional services sectors.
"Shenzhen Qianhai Financial Holdings Co Ltd, for instance, has clinched an agreement with HSBC and Hang Seng Bank to establish their first joint venture in fund management," she said.
Shenzhen Qianhai Financial Holdings - a strategic investment platform for the Qianhai Authority - issued 1 billion yuan worth of dim sum bonds in Hong Kong in April this year in a move that was welcomed by global investment institutions and created an over-subscription record.
The company announced last week it would jointly form a securities company with HSBC on the mainland.
Lam added that the Qianhai Authority is also discussing with a Hong Kong-invested company to provide direct services for a project in the special zone, including employing Hong Kong professionals and companies.
Tian Fu, director of the administrative committee of the Qianhai and Shekou FTZ, briefed Monday's meeting on the latest cooperation and development plans for Qianhai and Shekou.
He said the aggregate economic volume of the Qianhai and Shekou FTZ will break through 100 billion yuan this year - up 30 percent over 2014.
"More than 2,300 Hong Kong companies have registered in Qianhai so far, and we plan to attract 200 more this year," Tian said.
He pointed out that the next step is to further relax or scrap the entrance curbs on investments from Hong Kong and Macao in order to jointly build an international financial center that would become a key hub for renminbi internationalization.
The opening-up of financial and trading exchanges relies on the people, Tian said, adding that the administration will explore and realize the convenience of work and living conditions between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, including freedom of residence, professional practices, and investment to encourage enterprises to develop on the mainland.