As one of the strategic city clusters－along with the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Coordinated Development and the Yangtze River Economic Belt－that are intended to act as engines for the national economy and facilitate the nation’s further opening-up, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is a key component of the national development strategy for the next 30 years or so.
According to the outline of the development blueprint for the Greater Bay Area released on Feb 18, the main focus is to strengthen the cooperation among the three areas in order to turn the Greater Bay Area into a world-class innovation and technology hub and an efficient gateway between the mainland and the outside world, particularly those economies involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Encompassing nine cities in Guangdong province－Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Dongguan, Huizhou, Zhongshan, Foshan, Zhaoqing and Jiangmen－along with the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, which have different political, legal, economic and customs systems, the plan calls for close cooperation and coordination to harness the collective strengths of the region, which is already the most prosperous and internationalized region in the country.
Rather than weakening the application of “one country, two systems” as some pundits have suggested, the outline of the development plan shows that the intention is to take advantage of these differences to boost the development of the bay area as whole.
Thus the plan aims to strengthen Guangdong’s position as the nation’s leading technology and industrial innovation center and reinforce its role as a pilot zone for reform and opening-up. And it seeks to not only consolidate Hong Kong’s role as an offshore renminbi business hub and international financial center, but also to take advantage of its mature legal system to establish the SAR as legal and dispute resolution center for the Asia-Pacific. Macao is to likewise leverage its comparative advantage as an economic and trade cooperation platform between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, as well as advancing its reputation as a global tourism and leisure center.
Now that the blueprint has provided the overall direction for coordinated development, all the cities, each of which has its unique role to play, should come up with their respective plans to work within the framework so as to achieve the goal of building a vibrant and innovative world-class bay area by 2035.
By fully leveraging their comparative advantages and enhancing the convergence and coordination of their policy and planning, the 11 cities can make the Greater Bay Area an even more dynamic region than it is now and a showcase for the nation’s continuing reform and opening-up.