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Shenzhen edges Hong Kong as China’s most competitive city

China’s southern city of Shenzhen knocked down Hong Kong to become the country’s most competitive city in 2014, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the country’s top think tank. For the first time in a decade, Hong Kong has lost the top spot.

The survey, contained in CASS’s Blue Book on Urban Competitiveness, was released in Beijing last Friday. It ranks 294 cities across the country based on their economic competitiveness, livability, business advantages and sustainability.

Shanghai, China’s economic hub, took the third position and the capital Beijing only managed to clinch the eighth spot.

The survey cited Shenzhen’s focus on innovation as the reason for its rise. It said that Hong Kong’s lack of professionals in innovation and technology had dented the city’s standing, along with last year’s social problems, including the Occupy Central events and protests against tourists from the Chinese mainland.

The environment was also one of the important markers in the ranking. Shenzhen was listed as fourth in China’s top ten cities with the best air quality last year, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Shenzhen is a young Chinese city that was set up in 1979. A Special Economic Zone was established the following August in 1980, when China was in the thrust of economic reforms. It has now grown into one of China’s four first-tier cities, standing alongside Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.