18 January 2020
Pearl River Delta will play a key role in China’s “One Belt, One Road” strategy. Photo: HKEJ
Pearl River Delta will play a key role in China’s “One Belt, One Road” strategy. Photo: HKEJ

Specified growth index needed for Pearl River Delta region

Hong Kong’s role in China’s “One Belt, One Road” strategy has become a hot topic, with government officials, scholars and business elites offering different views and suggestions about the subject.

Reviewing the city’s development path and how it dovetails with the national strategy, and the Hong Kong government’s shift from politics to economy and livelihood have become two main themes.

Beijing has spelled out the details of the “one belt, one road” strategy when the National Development and Reform Commission, the Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Commerce jointly unveiled the program in March this year.

“We should give full scope to the role of Qianhai (Shenzhen), Nansha (Guangzhou), Hengqin (Zhuhai) and Pingtan (Fujian) in opening-up and cooperation, deepen their cooperation with Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, and help build the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Big Bay Area,” according to the blueprint.

“Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Big Bay Area” is a term that has been written into document, showing that Hong Kong will play a key role in the ambitious strategy. The focus, however, is on the integration and mutual development of the three regions.

Bay Area is quite similar to a metropolis, megalopolis, metropolitan area or an integrated mega-urban region, which all describe a cluster of cities that interact because of their economic interdependence and geographical proximity.

Bay Area is more akin to a metropolitan area, which is a region consisting of a densely populated urban core surrounded by less-populated territories with industries, infrastructure and housing. Some metropolitan areas don’t have their own jurisdiction, while some only have statistical significance.

In the United States, the New York metropolitan area includes five districts of New York City and 26 counties in the states of New York and New Jersey along with neighboring areas, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

The region has a total population of 18 million and an area of 30,000 square meters. It is viewed as a metropolitan statistical area.

San Francisco Bay Area is another metropolitan statistical area.

The statistical bay area or metropolitan area has evolved from global city development and city cluster development.

It’s a common practice to establish statistical benchmark systems and develop statistical products that could integrate cities and population in the city cluster, economy and industries, society and livelihood, administrative management and public services, cultural development and ecosystem protection, and serve as a thermometer to measure the health of the region’s economic and social development.

Also, it’s a key means for the region to showcase itself and enforce brand awareness. The statistical data shift in the bay area or metropolitan area also demonstrates the self-development and mutual cooperation among various cities in the area.

Statistics is far more than boring figures, and it is increasingly applied in nature, society and human sciences. It performs a key role in government and business decision-making.

The gathering of data is gradually moving to statistical inference based on sampling. Information technology has enhanced three main functions: information collection, consultation and supervision based on certain metrics. It’s widely applied in regional economy, society, livelihood and ecosystem.

However, the unique functions of statistics have yet to be given due attention in the regional cooperation of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau.

The region should adopt the practices of other world-class bay areas and metropolitan areas to form a Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area Index.

For example, the Index of Silicon Valley, published by Joint Venture, measures the strength of the economy and the health of the community in San Francisco Bay Area, highlighting the challenges and providing an analytical foundation for decision-making.

It has metrics on population, economy, society, space and local administrative management, and even added ecosystem and finance into the system in recent years.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 31.

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version中文版]

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Director of the Economic and Social Development Research Centre at the China Development Institute