Macao, Hengqin in 'one family'

2024-04-12 Editor:Li Yan

Hengqin New Area, wedged between Zhuhai and the Macao Special Administrative Region, has made big strides in creating a demonstration zone for integrated living between Guangdong province and Macao.

The Guangdong-Macao In-Depth Cooperation Zone on Hengqin Island is projected to have more than 5,000 Macao residents working, and about 20,000 living there by the end of this year.

The number of registered Macao enterprises in the zone had reached about 6,000 by the end of 2023 — a year-on-year increase of 11 percent — while the value of total funds registered stood at 166 billion yuan ($23 billion).

As the first comprehensive living complex built for Macao residents, the Macao New Neighborhood was unveiled at Hengqin in 2023, providing the Macao SAR with educational, healthcare and social services, as well as social security systems.

Integrated living between Hengqin and Macao continues to be on the fast track after the closed-loop customs arrangement was implemented on March 1. The new measure designates the boundary between Hengqin and the Macao SAR as the "first line", and the one between Hengqin and Zhuhai as the "second line".

Eligible Macao residents entering Hengqin through the "first line" are allowed to bring cooked meat, dairy products, cooked eggs and vegetables — a pioneering customs policy nationwide. They can also take their pets along.

Yu Chiu-bun, a Macao resident who works in Macao and lives on Hengqin, believes the accelerated integration of Hengqin and Macao has fostered a sense of belonging in many SAR residents across the boundary.

He said he had brought back vegetables, beef jerky and fruits to Hengqin after the arrangement was enforced, saying it's very convenient.

According to customs authorities, more than 600,000 passages had been made through Hengqin Port in the first two weeks since the implementation of the new measure, and over 2,174 Macao residents have been able to take animal and plant products into the cooperation zone.

Yu plans to send his son to school on Hengqin. A new school for students from the Macao SAR — Hengqin School Affiliated to Hou Kong Middle School — is expected to enroll its first students in September, including 18 classes for a primary school and another 12 for a kindergarten. The school will be the first to adopt Macao's free education system on the mainland.

According to Hengqin authorities, high schools are also in the pipeline to provide a "one-stop" education service for Macao residents to study in the zone.

In addition, transportation between Macao and Zhuhai has become more convenient as private vehicles with only a Macao licensed plate have been allowed to enter Guangdong through the Northbound Travel for Macao Vehicles program since Jan 1 last year.

Since early this year, more than 1.1 million Macao-registered cars have entered Guangdong, taking the SAR's residents to dine, travel and spend on the mainland, creating more business cooperation.

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