China’s Greater Bay Area secures solid development

The photo shows the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (Offered by Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Authority)

By Liu Lei, He Linping, People’s Daily

Traveling among China’s Macao, Hong Kong and Guangdong province within a day in an unrushed manner – it only existed in imagination. However, the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is turning this into reality.

The above-mentioned is the daily routine of Cai Yuanbo, a young entrepreneur who goes to and from Macao, Hong Kong and Guangdong on a daily basis.

He always departs Macao at 11:00 am and has lunches with business partners at the central business district of Hong Kong, and then heads to his office at the Macao-Hengqin Youth Entrepreneurship Valley (Inno Valley HQ), a startup incubator in Guangdong’s Zhuhai for meetings with his employees from Chinese mainland and Macao. After all this, he would return Macao to meet clients.

“The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has opened up a new world for entrepreneurs and generated unlimited opportunities,” said Cai.

The man, in his thirties, started a company at the Inno Valley HQ this year, and has gained several hundred thousand registered users on a tourism mobile application he developed with his partners.

Standing by the Pearl River and the South China Sea, the Greater Bay Area consists of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), Macao SAR and nine cities in the Pearl River Delta, such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

The area, which covers a total area of 56,000 square kilometers, had a combined population of approximately 70 million as of the end of 2017. It is one of the most open and economically vibrant regions in China.

The Greater Bay Area is developed under the conditions of one country, two systems, three customs territories and three currencies, without any precedents both domestically and internationally.

Therefore, for the area, how to bring into play the comprehensive advantages of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, innovate institutions and mechanisms, and promote the circulation of production factors within the framework of the “one country, two systems” policy, the Hong Kong Basic Law and the Macao Basic Law has become one of the most important and urgent issues.

On Sept. 23, 2018, the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link opened to traffic. One month later, the cross-sea bridge connecting Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao also opened. Besides, the Nansha Bridge, which links Guangzhou and Dongguan, started official operation on April 2, 2019.

So far, four out of the total six passages planned along the east and west banks of the Pearl River estuary have been completed and open to traffic.

Infrastructural development is further strengthened in the area. For instance, large-scale boundary crossings such as the Liantang-Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point connecting Shenzhen and Hong Kong and the new Guangdong-Macao border access (Qingmao Boundary Control Point) are accelerating their construction.

Guangdong is also building a rapid inter-city rail transport network, striving to reduce the travelling time among major cities within the Greater Bay Area to one hour or less.

Qianhai of Shenzhen and Hengqin of Zhuhai have piloted the Hong Kong engineering construction model and professional qualifications are gradually mutually recognized among the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao.

A financial convenience framework has been established and cross-border mobile payment is now available. Meanwhile, insurance products bought in Hengqin are now effective in Macao.

Such connectivity has facilitated the efficient flow of factors such as logistics, capital and information, and enhanced communication within the Greater Bay Area.

Hong Kong and Macao boast world-class universities and R&D capabilities to the forefront of global technological innovation while the Pearl River Delta has the world’s most complete manufacturing system and industrial chain which make it more adaptive to the market, said Li Zexiang, a professor with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Li believes such university-industry cooperation at the Greater Bay Area is sure to trigger chemical reaction and further spur innovation.

Most of the world’s famous bay areas are global innovation highlands. To build the Greater Bay Area into a first-rate and competitive bay area, the priority is to highlight the vital role of innovation and construct it as an international science and technology innovation center.

Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao need to promote innovation in technology, industry and system based on local conditions, outline the blueprint for future industrial research and development, stimulate the free flow of innovation elements, gather global high-end technology resources, and build the Greater Bay Area into a land of high-tech innovation.

A series of cooperative platforms are blooming in the Greater Bay Area, such as the Guangzhou campus of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Science and Technology Innovation Cooperation Zone and the Traditional Chinese Medicine Science and Technology Industrial Park of Co-operation between Guangdong and Macao.

TCL Corp, a Chinese multinational electronics company headquartered in Huizhou, Guangdong province, has jointly established a research laboratory with the University of Hong Kong and signed strategic cooperation agreements with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Chinese University of Hong Kong just one month after the Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Cooperation in the Development of the Bay Area was inked.

At present, Hong Kong and Macao residents do not need to apply for employment permits before they go to the mainland for work.

Besides, in the free trade zones of Guangdong’s Nansha, Qianhai and Hengqin, high-level personnel from Hong Kong and Macao now enjoy the same income tax rate as they do back home.

Thanks to such favorable policies, more and more young people from Hong Kong and Macao are starting up businesses in the mainland.

On satellite night view of the Earth, the Greater Bay Area is one of the brightest areas. A science and technology innovation corridor gathering innovative resources is emerging in the area, including the Xili Lake International Science and Education Zone, the Songshan Lake Xbot Park, the China-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City and the Guangzhou Science City.

With the increasing number of innovation platforms, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao have actively attracted and connected global innovation resources, and worked closer to cultivate a number of world-class industrial clusters to enhance economic innovation and competitiveness.