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What Is Hong Kong’s ‘Northern Metropolis’ Plan About?

Hong Kong’s Northern District.

Hong Kong’s Northern District.

Source: Google Maps

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In early October, Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, unveiled an ambitious plan to transform remote districts bordering the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen into a “Northern Metropolis.” The long-term project aims to alleviate the city’s chronic housing shortage and foster a new high-tech hub. How long it will take and at what cost remain to be seen, but it’s already sent yet another signal that the former British colony sees closer integration with the mainland as its future. 

To wrap the development of two districts at the top of the New Territories -- one of the city’s three main regions, along with Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon peninsula -- into a single, “vibrant” Northern Metropolis. The districts, Yuen Long and North District, have 27% of Hong Kong’s total area, but only 1 million of its 7.5 million residents. The plan is to raise that to 2.5 million residents over about 20 years, attracting people from more-crowded parts of a city that is often cited as the world’s least affordable housing market. It will also be home to an “international innovation and technology hub,” in what’s seen as another bid by the Hong Kong government to create a rival to Silicon Valley.