China will on Sunday open its first free trade zone, an ambitious effort to transform its commercial centre of Shanghai into a global hub, state media reported on Tuesday.
The project — which received official approval last month — will allow liberalised measures aimed at helping Shanghai compete with the likes of Hong Kong and London as well as push forward reform of the world’s second-largest economy.
“China will officially launch the pilot free trade zone in Shanghai on September 29,” the official news agency Xinhua said.
A draft plan seen by AFP earlier this month showed that the zone will remove controls on China’s yuan currency — a key obstacle in Shanghai’s ability to raise its international stature.
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post said on Tuesday the zone will even allow access to Facebook, Twitter and other websites banned nationwide.
China’s censorship authorities strictly control online content for fear of political and social unrest that might undermine the ruling Communist Party’s control.
Regulations in the zone will also be loosened in 19 business sectors from banking to culture, the draft plan showed.
Premier Li Keqiang, who took office in March, hopes the project will be one of the crowning achievements of his administration, analysts and government officials have said.
The area will span 29 square kilometres (11 square miles) and incorporate an existing international airport, deepwater port, bonded zone and logistics area.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]