Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying visited Guangzhou, the capital of South China's Guangdong Province, on Wednesday to discuss Hong Kong's role in China's regional integration national strategy of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, as well as to explore new growth areas for his city.
Guangdong governor Ma Xingrui met with Leung and his delegation.
"Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao must closely cooperate to connect each other's talent, logistics and capital flow, and each region should use its comparative advantage to avoid overlapping activities within the area. The Greater Bay Area should prepare to build a market-oriented, legal and international business environment," Ma said, Ta Kung Pao newspaper reported.
Leung said Hong Kong is a highly international city and with the advantages of the "one country two systems," Hong Kong can serve as a "super coordinator" between Chinese mainland cities and the world.
The pilot plan to develop the Greater Bay Area makes sense not just economically, but also politically and socially, as the Greater Bay Area aims to push ahead with the development of different social and political mechanisms in the country, Zhou Linsheng, vice president of the China Society of Economic Reform, told the Global Times.
"This is a national strategy on the Belt and Road initiative and regional integration, rather a separate one to serve a city. But Hong Kong can overcome its challenges by participating in the strategy and contributing to the development of South China," Tian Feilong, associate professor at Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
At the Fifth Session of the 12th National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China in March, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the central government will draw up plans for the development of a city cluster in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area to capitalize on the distinctive strengths of Hong Kong and Macao, elevating their roles in the development and opening up of China's economy.
During a meeting with incoming Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Li said the central government will create the plans in 2017, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Hong Kong's elites and young generation should realize that Hong Kong's future depends on the mainland's development, and they should not expect the country to treat Hong Kong like a baby, Tian stressed.
"In recent years, Hong Kong has faced many problems such as a divisive society, political instability and the emergence of separatists, and these caused Hong Kong's economic plight. The Greater Bay Area will boost regional growth and provide massive opportunities to Hong Kong youth. Hong Kong really needs to fit into regional integration and seize this opportunity to build a better future for its people," Tian said.
Leung and his delegation will visit five other cities in the region.
Revitalizing mainland links
"The Greater Bay Area will be a boon to Hong Kong," Liang Haiming, chief economist of the China Silk Road iValley Research Institute, a Guangzhou-based think tank, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
"The city's development faces problems, but few people have figured out a sound development path to move the city forward," Liang said. "Nevertheless, the Greater Bay Area is set to become a growth engine that would revitalize Hong Kong's links to the Chinese mainland."
As Europe's economy struggles and the US economy recovers, demand from these markets is sluggish, which plagues the export-oriented city, Liang said, noting that the mainland economy's robust growth, the Pearl River Delta's in particular, is expected to boost Hong Kong's economy.
The Greater Bay Area will push for synergistic development between Guangdong and Hong Kong and will strengthen Hong Kong as a global financial hub, particularly in wealth management services, considering that the increasing wealth of people in Guangdong means a growing demand for such sophisticated services, Liang said.
Hong Kong is also being eyed as a gateway for firms in Guangdong to cash in on the opportunities along the Belt and Road routes, factoring in the city's advantages in fundraising and professional services such as accounting and legal advice. This will also create opportunities for relevant industries in Hong Kong, he added.