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Honed city plan strengthens Greater Bay Area

LI YONGJIE | 2019-04-04 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

Core cities of the Greater Bay Area will continue to leverage their comparative advantages to boost development of their nearby areas. Photo: FILE


“The Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area” was released in February 2019 as the project’s construction entered a vital stage of implementation. Four core cities, Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, should continue to leverage their comparative advantages and boost the development of their nearby areas, the outline says. In this page, we invite three scholars who have studied the Greater Bay Area to scrutinize the outline and envision the future strategic development of Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Macao.


Hong Kong’s internationalized dynamics will be activated in the process of building the Greater Bay Area
Mao Yanhua:
Hong Kong is a free port and an international center of finance, trade, shipping and information. It has various advantages such as a mature market economy, innovative elements, developed professional services, sound rule of law and extensive international contacts. It commands a distinct position among the core cities in the Greater Bay Area. The outline proposes a first-class bay area with dynamics and international competitiveness. This goal is conducive for Hong Kong to perform its internationalized role.

Hong Kong’s mature market economy will aid the efforts to build a vibrant world-class city cluster. Hong Kong is home to a stable, fair, transparent and predictable business environment. Cities in the Pearl River Delta can take Hong Kong’s business environment as an example for deepening reform and opening up. Hong Kong will speed up the transition from an open market where commodities and elements flow freely to one based on regulations and mechanisms. An integrated market in the Greater Bay Area will thus be promoted.

The city’s abundant innovative elements will turn it into a new international center of technology and innovation with global influence. Hong Kong has gathered international high-quality innovation resources, and many universities in the city rank among the top in the world. Based on the improving cooperation mechanisms of science, technology and innovation, Hong Kong’s innovative resources can be integrated with certain mainland cities’ industrial advantages, which will contribute to a whole-industrial-chain international center devoted to technological innovation and the commercial application of technological results.

Hong Kong’s professional services and sound rule of law are supportive to the construction of the Belt and Road (B&R). Hong Kong has a wide range of professional services and is highly internationalized. Its common law system is widely recognized by the international community. It will supply consulting services and informative support for the companies that aim to enter overseas markets by fully leveraging its advantages in finance, law and dispute resolution and through management consulting, project planning and talent training. In the process of revving up B&R development, Hong Kong will expand its involvement in the world.

Hong Kong’s extensive connections with the outside world will help create a quality environment for residence, work and tourism. Such a large residential circle as the Greater Bay Area calls for cooperation in education, culture, tourism and social security. Bay areas across the world are typically places where diverse cultures come together. A world-class bay area is inseparable from its cultural development. Hong Kong is an important link for Chinese and Western cultural exchanges. The construction of the Greater Bay Area supplies Hong Kong with favorable conditions to foster foreign contacts and promote cooperation between Chinese culture and other cultures. At the same time, it will expand Hong Kong’s international influence in the fields of film and television, design, fashion, and entertainment, and it will enhance the city’s charm as a precious mixture of Chinese and Western cultures. The internationalized elements of Hong Kong will be better preserved.


Guangzhou will expand the connectivity of transportation and mechanisms within the Greater Bay Area
Shen Minghao:
Guangzhou is the transportation hub of the Greater Bay Area. Transportation is a form of infrastructure connectivity. Situated in the northern and southern ends of the Greater Bay Area, Guangzhou Baiyun Airport and Hong Kong Airport are two gateways to the region. The annual passenger throughput of the two airports is about 140 million. Guangzhou is one of the four hubs of China’s high-speed rail network, the gateway to the nine provinces in the Pan-Pearl River Delta as well as Hong Kong and Macao passengers’ entrance to the Chinese mainland. Guangdong has formed a one-hour living circle, based on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed railway and the Guangzhou-Zhuhai city rail. The living circle is changing residents’ mode of travel and stimulating a more convenient flow of various production factors within the Greater Bay Area, which will address the economic inequality between the area’s eastern and western banks.

The connectivity of rules and mechanisms is a crucial step for the Greater Bay Area to build an internationalized and market-based business environment. The juxtaposed border control arrangements conducted by the railway departments of Guangdong, Shenzhen and Hong Kong have facilitated the exchanges among people from Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. It has made it easier for Hong Kong residents to more mainland cities by bullet train. Free trade zones in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai have tailored reformative measures to improve the business environment, such as pre-establishment national treatment, a negative list and ex post facto supervision. Guangzhou Nansha Free Trade Zone will form partnerships with Hong Kong and Macao to establish a service base and international exchange platform that will help Chinese enterprises enter the global market.

The Outline proposes that Guangzhou should promote itself as a center of science, technology, education and culture and that it should enhance the Greater Bay Area’s capabilities in fundamental research, IP transfer and commercial application of technological achievements. The city should accelerate the construction of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Guangzhou Branch. Such a project along with many other universities in Guangzhou will attract global research and development resources to Guangzhou and form an international haven for the high-tech R&D industry.

It is necessary to enhance the city’s function as an international trade center in all aspects. The Greater Bay Area should support the B&R construction, according to the Outline. The total import and export trade volume of the Pearl River Delta accounts for about one-fourth of that of China. The region has gathered many leading enterprises in the trade and supply chain, and the new trade industry is flourishing. The Canton Fair, which has been held for many years, is the best-known Chinese exhibition and has been a window for foreign trade connecting Chinese and foreign merchants.

Macao will use its merits to serve the needs of the country
Zhong Yun:
The Global Economic Outlook by the International Monetary Fund last year said that Macao’s per capita GDP ranked second in the world and was expected to rise to first place by 2020. As a free and open economy, Macao has immense potential for development despite its relatively small size. Its role in the Greater Bay Area should not be underestimated.

Macao’s three functions in the Greater Bay Area are described in the Outline as it being a world-class tourism and leisure center, a commerce and trade cooperation service platform between China and Lusophone countries, and a field where Chinese culture is the mainstream and where diverse cultures coexist. Macao will not only boost the diverse development of its local economy, but also use its merits to serve the needs of the country. 

In terms of development ideas for the financial industry, the Outline supports Macao’s development of a China-Lusophone countries financial services platform, its establishment of an export credit insurance system, the development of an RMB clearing center for Lusophone countries, and leveraging Macao’s strengths as the headquarters of the China-Portuguese-Speaking Countries Cooperation and Development Fund. Apart from sector development, the role of Macao’s financial industry in the Greater Bay Area also concerns its contribution to the B&R, as it will take up financial cooperation between China and Lusophone countries.

The traditional Chinese medicine industry provides another perspective for understanding Macao’s position in the Greater Bay Area. Macao has a strong development atmosphere and public recognition for traditional Chinese medicine. The industry is one of Macao’s highlights in science, technology and innovation, and one of the focuses of its diverse economic development in recent years. The Traditional Chinese Medicine Science and Technology Industrial Park of Cooperation between Guangdong and Macao in Hengqin has achieved a lot since its establishment in 2011. Without question, the industry is a major tool for Macao to engage in the construction of the Greater Bay Area.


edited by MA YUHONG