Border police officers patrol the SEZ control line in this 2010 file photo.
THE State Council, China's Cabinet, has approved the abolishment of the 36-year-old Shenzhen Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Control Line, which used to separate the original SEZ from the rest of the city, according to a statement on the Central Government's website yesterday.
In the statement, the State Council said the move was aimed at promoting the integration of the Shenzhen SEZ and facilitating the SEZ's development in the new era. The State Council also urged Shenzhen to improve its infrastructure and public services in order to realize high-quality urbanization.
The 84.6-km control line was built between 1982 and 1985 following the establishment of the Shenzhen SEZ in 1980. It features a narrow patrol road paved with granite bricks and a 3-meter-high wire netting designed to prevent people from entering the SEZ without a special permit. A number of checkpoints were established to ensure only people with an SEZ permit were allowed into the SEZ, which used to consist of Futian, Luohu, Nanshan and Yantian before the SEZ was expanded to cover the whole city in May 2010.
The control line was also aimed at preventing smugglers from sneaking imported goods, which enjoyed preferential tariffs, out of the SEZ.
When the SEZ was expanded in 2010, the SEZ control line remained unaffected although people could go through the checkpoints along the line without having to produce an SEZ permit to border officers.
In the statement, the State Council urged border controls between Shenzhen and Hong Kong to be strengthened following the removal of the SEZ control line.
Liu Xiaobo, a famed financial analyst and publisher of the Tiantian Shuoqian WeChat public account, said yesterday that the demolition of the SEZ control line will improve traffic around the line and balance the development of the original SEZ - long regarded as the urban area of the city - with the rest of the city. This is also good news for the city's economic development and the housing market, Liu said.