On Monday, China unveiled a new plan to strengthen the connections between Hong Kong and Macao with the cities of southern China to create the so-called Greater Bay Area, to rival the Californian Silicon Valley.
The plan, published by the Xinhua news agency, explains how the government will try to turn the area into a hub of innovation, enhancing connectivity between cities and strengthening Hong Kong as an international commercial, financial and logistics center.
Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou are the four axes on which this plan will develop.
According to HSBC Holdings Plc, the area, which has more than 67 million residents, will stimulate a trillion dollar economy, aiming to become the fourth largest exporter in the world, surpassing Japan.
Hong Kong alone is currently in seventh place in the world exporters’ list. The ranking is led by China, the United States, and Germany.
“This policy framework sets out a clear vision for a global economic powerhouse in the Greater Bay Area,” allowing cities and regions to harness these complementary strengths more effectively, said Peter Wong, managing director of HSBC Asia Pacific.
The announcement of this strategy has fueled the equity markets of the region.
The values of the port of Guangzhou, the port of Zhuhai and the port of Shenzhen Yan Tian have all risen by the 10% daily limit.
The long-announced plan was greeted with discomfort by the people of Hong Kong, afraid of further integration with the mainland that will further erode the autonomy that allowed the city to maintain a legal, monetary and political separation from mainland China from July 1, 1997.
The development of the Greater Bay Area over the years has been hampered by multiple social, legal and customs problems, which have slowed its creation.
A new global plan, according to government intentions, will give further impetus to the development of the region.
China has already spent billions of dollars on infrastructure projects to connect the major cities and production centers of the region. The development strategy with the new plan will continue at least until 2035.
Last year, President Xi Jinping inaugurated the 34-billion-long, 34-billion-dollar longest sea bridge in the world, linking Hong Kong to Macao and Zhuhai.
In September, a new terminal was inaugurated at Victoria Harbor, which connects Hong Kong to the Chinese high-speed rail network, not without controversy from Hong Kong activists who have accused the project of violating city autonomy.
What is the Greater Bay Area
According to the new project, each city in the area will specialize in certain sectors.
Hong Kong will focus on logistics, trade and international finance. Macao will become an international tourist center and trading platform with Portuguese-speaking countries like Brazil. Guangzhou will become an administrative center, while Shenzhen, among other things Huawei’s headquarters, will specialize as a special economic zone and technology center.
The strategy will try to stimulate scientific sharing and cooperation and technological research among universities, institutions, and businesses.
The key areas identified are logistics, textile industry, technological communication, car components, nanomaterials, technology incubators, strengthening of intellectual properties.
Image: Matteo Damiani