Great Bay Area gets going

By Li Xuanmin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/2/19 23:18:40

Area’s influence could reach China’s neighbors: expert



A Hong Kong-registered truck goes through the Zhuhai Port of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge in Zhuhai, south China's Guangdong Province, January 13, 2019. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge, the world's longest cross-sea bridge, opened to public traffic on October 24, 2018. Photo: Xinhua



Industry observers hailed the grand blueprint for the development of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Great Bay Area, released on Monday, as Chinese policymakers' latest effort to set a strategic model for the country's further economic opening-up and innovation-driven high-quality growth under the "one country, two systems" principle. 

Under the blueprint, the Great Bay Area, with a combined GDP of $1.5 trillion in 2017, is on track to surpassing the world's three existing major bay areas - San Francisco, New York and Tokyo - to become the world's most vigorous and largest bay area by economic output, analysts said.

The development plan, unveiled by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, China's cabinet, says that the bay area will be turned into a vibrant world-class city cluster, a globally influential international innovation and technology hub, an important support pillar for the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, and a showcase for in-depth cooperation between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong and Macao. 

The Great Bay Area is comprised of nine cities in South China's Guangdong Province as well as the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions (SARs). It covers a total area of 56,000 square kilometers and is home to about 70 million people as of 2017, larger than the other three bay areas.

Lin Nianxiu, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's economic planner, said in an interview with China Central Television (CCTV) that the reason why China lifted the building of the bay area into a national strategy is that the country hopes the area will follow the globalization trend and fully utilize the role of Hong Kong and Macao as open markets and Guangdong as the pioneer for reform and opening-up,

'One country, two systems'

Industry insiders believed that the plan is a milestone in China's latest round of opening-up and in the "one country, two systems" principle.

"The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Great Bay Area represents the highest level of marketing in China thanks to the 'one country, two systems' principle… No cities on the Chinese mainland could rival the two SARs in terms of market openness, internationalization level and position as free trade ports," Song Ding, a research fellow at the Shenzhen-based China Development Institute, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

As such, the guideline gives full play to the advantages of Guangdong and the two SARs, analysts said. 

While the New York Bay Area has an overwhelming advantage in the finance industry, the San Francisco Bay Area, led by Silicon Valley, excels in the tech industry, and high-end manufacturing defines the Tokyo Great Bay Area, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Great Bay Area is a combination of all necessary economic factors in the three city clusters, Song said.      

"Hong Kong is on par with New York as a financial center. Similar to San Francisco, Shenzhen has given birth to a complete chain for high-tech industries. And the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong is the cradle of manufacturing," he said, highlighting the potential of the Great Bay Area to become the world leader in economic output in the near future. 

The Great Bay Area's economy ranked second among the four bay areas. Its GDP reached 10 trillion yuan ($1.5 trillion) in 2017, the Xinhua News Agency reported, equivalent to the economic volume of South Korea and Russia combined. 

Lo Kwun Yu, the Hong Kong founder of Guangzhou-based Yangsan Cultural Communication Company, told the Global Times on Tuesday that he expects the plan to provide a further boost to his company's business in cultural creativity, as Guangdong and Hong Kong and Macao, the two SARs, integrate more and see more exchanges of talents and ideas under the project.  

"More Hong Kong residents will come to the Chinese mainland to pursue a career following the guideline," Lo noted. 

But how to overcome the barriers associated with "two systems, three judicial systems and three customs areas" is the key to achieving that goal, said Lo, who recently encountered tedious approval procedures in setting up another firm in Guangdong along with investors from the mainland. "Officials in Guangdong and the two SARs need to think about how to create a unified system to lower administrative barriers and integrate resources in a reasonable way."  

High-quality growth

The guideline, with an extensive focus on innovation, also provided detailed goals to turn the Great Bay Area into an economic powerhouse and "a model of development mainly supported by innovation" by 2035.

The area could be turned into a magnet to key projects in fifth-generation (5G) networks, genetic testing, intelligent robotics, 3D printing and the BeiDou satellite navigation system, the plan reads.

"The top-level design of the Great Bay Area is in line with China's industrial transformation and economic upgrade. Innovation provides the foundation for global competitiveness," said Yang Delong, chief economist at the Shenzhen-based First Seafront Fund Management Company.

Industry observers said the development of the Great Bay Area, while serving as an example of high-quality growth, will fuel the growth not only within the area but also across China. 

A spokesperson for Hong Kong SAR also said the Great Bay Area will "help Hong Kong find new drivers for economic growth and advance the diversified development of the local economy," the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Great Bay Area's influence could also expand beyond China to Southeast Asian and South Asian countries, Song said. In the long term, it will also extend to countries along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative.





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