Cities in the Pearl River Delta will eventually merge into one big community as living patterns evolve and people get used to living their lives within a circle defined by up to an hour’s travel from work, home and leisure.
More people in the region have moved out of its downtown districts and settled in the suburbs, so the area in which they spend their time has increasingly expanded.
Some go to work in Guangzhou in the morning and meet someone for lunch in Foshan. People from Dongguan join an after-work gathering in Shenzhen.
It’s not much different from people in Hong Kong who commute from Tuen Mun to Central.
In future, a Hongkonger might move to Zhuhai and commute to work in Hong Kong, one hour away by the bridge that is being built to join the two cities and Macau.
Many commuters within Hong Kong take that long to get to work.
The delta is being connected and integrated by an improved transportation network, including the Humen bridge, which connects Nansha district in Guangzhou with Humen town in Dongguan, and the forthcoming Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge.
Intraregional differences may gradually disappear, but different regions may serve varied functions.
Hong Kong should outsource part of its functions to neighboring cities in the delta and focus on sharpening its strengths.
For example, it has already moved power plants to Huizhou and manufacturing plants throughout the Pearl River Delta.
Curtain shops have been relocated to Luohu in Shenzhen, and some recreation facilities have been moved to Dongguan.
Therefore, it will be quite natural for more Hongkongers to move to other cities in the Pearl River Delta in the coming years.
Most global metropolises have followed a similar path. In Tokyo, several million people commute between the outskirts and downtown. And in the United States, many people live in New Jersey and work in New York.
However, some Hongkongers are reluctant to move to mainland cities, which they consider “substandard” or “less developed”.
But the truth is there is limited land in Hong Kong for everyone to live in a comfortable and spacious apartment.
We should expand our horizons and enjoy the convenience of the surrounding region.
We can work in Hong Kong, live in spacious flats in the outskirts and visit friends across the region.
It would be more affordable than spending our lives cramped in a tiny downtown flat.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec. 29.
Translation by Julie Zhu
– Contact us at [email protected]