Published: Fri, February 22, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

China plans to develop 'Greater Bay Area'

China plans to develop 'Greater Bay Area'

- China'sState Council, the country's cabinet, on February 18 published guidelines for developing the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.

The plan involves 11 cities in Southern China becoming a mega zone that rivals Silicon Valley in the US, the South China Morning Post reported.

When it comes to economic cooperation, the Outline Plan highlights the building of an worldwide innovation and technology hub and a globally competitive modern industrial system.

President Xi Jinping previous year attended a ribbon-cutting for the world's longest bridge, linking Hong Kong with the city of Zhuhai in Guangdong province, and the territory also opened a new stop that connects it to mainland China's highly developed high-speed rail network.

These are Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Dongguan, Huizhou, Zhongshan, Foshan, Zhaoqing, and Jiangmen.

Deepen ties between Hong Kong and mainland financial systems.

The bay area should be driven by innovation and led by reform.

Improve electricity transmission between mainland and Hong Kong. Hong Kong residents, struggling with high housing prices, will have the opportunity to move across the border and work in state-owned companies while people moving the other way will gain access to the city's education and health systems.

It pledged to "consolidate and enhance Hong Kong's status as an worldwide finance, transportation and trade centre, as well as an global aviation hub".

The blueprint's failure to delineate clearly how Hong Kong's status will be protected suggests either that the Bay Area plan is more hype than practical programme, or that political objectives will trump economic considerations.

The pro-Beijing camp, however, welcomed the plans on Tuesday, with the DAB's Starry Lee saying that that the document was just the first step: "I welcome the announcement of the llong-awaited Greater Bay Area outline development plan, and I want to thank the central government for its attention to Hong Kong", Lee said.

Mr Govertsen told us, referring to the way that the holiday destinations of Las Vegas, Nevada - with its casinos and shows - and Orlando, Florida - with its theme parks - complement each other: "With the plans in store for neighbouring Hengqin and all of a sudden Macau plus Hengqin becomes a lot more like Las Vegas plus Orlando, which further supports the long-term story [of Macau]".

As for the other core cities: Macau would be a tourism hub and a platform for trade with Portuguese-speaking countries such as Brazil; Guangzhou would take a leading role as a provincial capital and national central city; and Shenzhen would play its part as a special economic zone and home of China's innovation and technology giants.

It is envisioned that cities within the Greater Bay Area will be linked by quantum communication network - a cutting-edge communication technology that makes eavesdropping literally impossible.

However, complex issues such as which customs, tax and legal systems would predominate were left out of the plan.

"In this case, the central government should allow the local authorities to have space to explore what can be done", he added.

The plan, to be announced soon, will support the integration of the GBA and collaboration among the participating cities. Hong Kong passed the enabling legislation in June, but only after China's national parliament stepped in to ratify the plan.

"Over the past year and a half, we went to forums constantly and reflected the opinions we heard in the drafting of the outline development plan", Lam said.

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