The Chinese premier signalled today the long-awaited Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect had been given the green light by the country's state council, meaning international investors will be able to buy shares on companies listed in Shenzhen.
In a statement issued this morning, the state council said: "The preparation for the launch of Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect has been basically completed, and the state council has approved its implementation plan.
"The launch of the programme will help investors better share the fruits of economic development in both the mainland and Hong Kong, deepen the financial cooperation between them, and consolidate and enhance Hong Kong's position as an international financial centre," Li said.
The Shenzhen Stock Exchange is China's second largest after the Shanghai exhange, as measured by market capitalisation, and one of the world's top ten bourses. Around one-fifth of the companies listed in Shenzhen are technology firms, compared to just one in 20 listed in Shanghai, and it also runs the ChiNext sub-board - the Chinese equivalent to Nasdaq which specialises in technology stocks.
Helen Wong, chief executive at HSBC's greater China region said: "China’s decision to launch Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect demonstrates the country’s continuing commitment to liberalising its financial sector and opening up its capital markets to global investors.
Read more: Can China avoid a hard landing?
"This link should provide investors around the world with a convenient way to access China's new generation of private sector companies listed in Shenzhen, including an array of innovative internet and technology players based in the Pearl River Delta."
Analysts warned not to expect a flurry of interest from foreign investors when the stock market link goes live, however, given that China remains a risky market for investors who may be concerned about the prospect of a slowdown in the country.