Hong Kong takes back seat as China’s Xi promotes neighbor as future ‘model city’

China’s President Xi Jinping praised the tech-hub city of Shenzhen in a landmark speech on Wednesday, leaving some puzzling over the future of nearby Hong Kong, as China’s traditional global foothold.

Xi said Shenzhen, often dubbed China’s Silicon Valley and home to tech giants Huawei and Tencent, was making “historic leaps” and “achieving miracles.”

He also announced that the area would be given more leeway to pursue opening-up reforms and become a “model city for a strong socialist country.”

Once a small fishing village adjacent to Hong Kong, Shenzhen is now home to about 13 million and was transformed in 1980 by veteran Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, after he designated it a “Special Economic Zone,” carving out capitalist privileges in the staunchly communist country.

Retracing Deng’s footprints 40 years later during his own southern tour this week, Xi announced Shenzhen would again become a testing ground for foreign investment and

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