Photo taken on June 6, 2017 shows the construction site of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge in the Lingdingyang waters, South China. [Photo/Xinhua]
Unique nature, advantages turn it into new type of development, officials say
Senior officials from the Chinese mainland and two special administrative regions pledged concerted and unremitting efforts to bring about the country's massive plan to turn the Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macao area into an economic powerhouse.
"Under the conditions of 'one country, two systems', three customs territories and three currencies, without any precedent internationally," the high-profile Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is a groundbreaking initiative that calls for combined efforts, pioneering work and a can-do attitude, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said at a high-level symposium promoting the development plan outline for the Greater Bay Area held in Hong Kong on Thursday.
Hong Kong, a city with the best of both worlds, will spare no effort and do everything possible to throw its weight behind the colossal project, Lam promised.
The financial hub is betting big on its role in the changes, from its yearslong position as "connector" to the more proactive "participant, facilitator and promoter", she said.
Ma Xingrui, governor of Guangdong province, vowed to marshal the province's resources to press ahead with the blueprint from "a higher-level view and bigger picture".
The Bay Area encompasses Hong Kong, Macao and nine cities in Guangdong province, including Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
As the initiative looks to promote coordinated economic development in the Greater Bay Area by capitalizing on the complementary advantages of the three places, Macao will sharpen its edge as a world-class tourism and recreational center, as well as facilitator of economic and trade exchanges between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, said Chui Sai-on, chief executive of the Macao SAR.
Years in the making, the much-awaited blueprint for the Greater Bay Area was unveiled on Monday evening. The region, reminiscent of the country's economic miracle in earlier years, is poised to replicate the glowing success story of three leading bay areas — New York, San Francisco and Tokyo.
The unique nature of the Greater Bay Area makes it a pilot program never seen before, said Guo Lanfeng, director general of the Department of Regional Economy of the National Development and Reform Commission.
Huge differences with other leading bay areas may pose a challenge, but may also give the Greater Bay Area an unbeatable edge over its more-established rivals, Guo said.
"The plan to create a globally competitive cluster of metropolises in the Pearl River Delta will become a catalyst for the nation's undertakings in reform and opening-up," said Lin Nianxiu, deputy chairman of the office of the leading group for the development of the Greater Bay Area. "The region, as an important growth engine, will also lead the pack in the country's pursuit of high-quality development.
"After years of robust growth, the Bay Area has fallen somewhat into development bottlenecks. The initiative spells fresh new opportunities ahead for cities involved to make a breakthrough."
Lam said she thinks the initiative comes as a well-timed boost to Hong Kong, whose traditional advantages show signs of weakening as the worldwide economic slowdown and the rhetoric and mentality of protectionism cast a shadow over global markets.
The Bay Area, known for its strength in innovation and technology, fits well with Hong Kong's quest for new growth impetus, and it reinforces the theme of higher-level intraregional and cross-border collaboration, she said. "But it also cannot go without the participation of local enterprises, professional sectors and ordinary people, especially young generations," she said.
Overseas promotion efforts also matter, she said. In June, Lam led a delegation, together with the governments of Guangdong and Macao, to pitch the initiative in Paris. She said the governments of the three areas are planning another overseas trip this year to jointly promote the Bay Area.