President Xi Jinping says Shenzhen will be the "engine" for the development of the Greater Bay Area, and that Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, as well as overseas Chinese, should all be encouraged and guided to help with the development of the city and other special economic zones (SEZ).
Xi was giving a speech on Wednesday in Shenzhen to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the economic zones.
"The Greater Bay Area is a major development strategy of the country. With Shenzhen being an important engine in its development, we should seize the major historical opportunities in the development of the Greater Bay Area, promote the alignment of economic rules, and institutions of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau," he said.
"We should also continue to encourage and guide our compatriots in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as well as overseas Chinese, to play their important roles in investment, entrepreneurship and two-way openness, so that they can make new contributions to the development of the special economic zones," Xi added.
He made the remarks amid speculation that Hong Kong will be sidelined as Beijing builds Shenzhen into a "model city" in the country's economic reforms.
Xi also said the mainland city will be tasked with "enriching the new practice of One Country, Two Systems," but he did not elaborate.
"Shenzhen will also take the lead to realise socialist modernisation, this is the historical mission of Shenzhen given by the party in a new era," the president said.
Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam, as well as her Macau counterpart, Ho Iat-seng, are also present at the ceremony. Lam was seen seated on the stage with about a dozen officials.
Lam was originally scheduled to deliver her annual Policy Address on Wednesday, but she postponed it to a later date, saying she needs more time to ask for mainland authorities' assistance in reviving the SAR's economy.