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Hong Kong Can Play A Guiding Role as Greater Bay Area Enters A New Era

By Dr Jonathan Choi, Chairman of The Chinese General Chamber of Commerce

The Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Outline) unveiled last month outlines the strategic positioning for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area) and provides direction for division of work and development goals. Hong Kong should fully leverage its unique status under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle and the strengths of its existing industries, and take advantage of the new functional position given by the Outline. In my proposal submitted to the CPPCC this year, I made recommendations on how to leverage Hong Kong’s biggest strengths for in-depth cooperation in areas such as innovation and technology (I&T) and shipping hub, while making proposals on how to build a high-quality living circle in the Greater Bay Area.

Making joint effort to build an intercity “innovation Corridor” along shenzhen River

The Outline envisions turning the Greater Bay Area into a globally influential international I&T hub. In fact, the HKSAR Government has actively allocated resources for I&T development in recent years, while Hong Kong and Shenzhen have also jointly stepped up the development of the I&T park in the Lok Ma Chau Loop. On this basis, Hong Kong and Shenzhen can leverage their respective innovation resources and bring their roles into full play to drive the cooperation platform for the Greater Bay Area’s I&T hub.

I look forward to the Central Government approving the package of preferential policies for the “Innovation Corridor” on both sides of Shenzhen River, such as drawing reference from the Macao’s practice to permit Macao-registered vehicles to enter Hengqin and allow access of Hong Kong-registered vehicles to Shenzhen and the Greater Bay Area.

I also suggested to use the “Innovation Corridor” as a platform to strengthen the Greater Bay Area’s capacity to transform scientific research achievements. An international scientific cooperation cluster can be built to promote the development of an intellectual property trading centre and protection demonstration zone, providing an important foundation for the Greater Bay Area’s construction and legal protection.

Consolidating the status as aviation and shipping hubs

The Outline also proposes to enhance the international competitiveness of the Pearl River Delta (PRD) port cluster and develop a world-class airport cluster. Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao can further improve the cooperation mechanisms for the Greater Bay Area’s major airports and port facilities to raise the standards of co-management and co-operation, while capitalizing on Hong Kong’s strengths in high-end professional services to build an integrated intermodal logistics network with other cities in the area.

Indeed, ASEAN countries and Hong Kong have a long history of trade and cultural interaction. Based on the new policy for the Greater Bay Area, Hong Kong can strengthen its role as a Greater Bay Area-ASEAN connector to promote the construction of the “China-ASEAN trade gateway”. Efforts can be made to extend the connection between China’s southwestern provinces and ASEAN countries to Hong Kong, Macao, Guangdong and the eastern regions by improving the transportation network. Hong Kong can also use its experience in supply chain management services to integrate aviation and shipping resources in the Greater Bay Area and help provide professional service support.

Developing a quality living circle for living, working and travelling

The Outline upholds the philosophy of people-centred development to jointly develop a quality circle for living, working and travelling. The Greater Bay Area is based on urban clusters and by linking up the well-developed transportation facilities, the “one-hour living circle” is nearing completion. The next step must be to deepen support services for the convenience of the people and realize true interconnection of living essentials in the area.

For example, Hong Kong and Macao residents living in the Greater Bay Area may be granted the same treatment as Mainland residents in investment, employment, entrepreneurship, welfare, etc., to boost their sense of belonging. The authorities can approve the use of vouchers as a form of education subsidy for children of Hong Kong and Macao residents living in the Greater Bay Area, or even allow the HKSAR Government to directly purchase places at designated schools in the Greater Bay Area. In addition, the authorities can encourage the establishment of Hong Kong-style hospitals in major cities of the Greater Bay Area and provide medical services to Mainland and Hong Kong residents living in the Greater Bay Area. It can also allow the HKSAR Government to give subsidies to Hong Kong residents living in the Greater Bay Area so that they can also enjoy the local social welfare services and facilities.

The Outline proposes to reduce or even remove long-distance and roaming charges for mobile phones across Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, laying the foundation as well as providing support for the development of smart cities. In fact, the three major telecom operators on the Mainland have already removed such charges. I hope the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao will follow suit and publish relevant details as soon as possible to benefit the entire Greater Bay Area. The authorities can also allow Hong Kong and Macao residents who hold a home visit permit to use the self-service ticketing and boarding facilities at railway stations and airports, which are currently available to Mainland residents with second-generation ID cards.

In summary, the construction of the Greater Bay Area is the country’s key strategy for reform and opening up in the new era. It is also a new endeavour for regional cooperation in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. As such, innovative thinking is required to achieve strong alliance of the Greater Bay Area urban clusters. We will also encourage member enterprises to participate actively as well as brainstorm with the public, teaming up to achieve the Outline’s objectives to align “the country’s needs, Hong Kong & Macao’s strengths and Guangdong’s capabilities” and explore the vast development potentials and business opportunities for Hong Kong and the entire Greater Bay Area.

 

This article was first published in the magazine CGCC Vision. Please click to read the full article.

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