Hong Kong’s Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, while seeking to mend relations with democrats, should also explore new growth opportunities arising from the city’s integration with mainland China.
A case in point is the proposed Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area.
Hong Kong is China’s top financial hub and offshore renminbi hub. What should it do to maintain this status in the future?
I don’t think relations between Hong Kong and mainland cities should be a zero-sum game.
Many global financial centers are located in bay areas, such those in New York, Tokyo and San Francisco.
The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area is part of China’s national strategic plan.
The proposed link involves 11 cities with a combined GDP that is two times that of San Francisco’s Big Bay and and close to that of New York’s Big Bay.
The region has reported a combined trade (both imports and exports) of US$1.5 trillion, more than three times that of the Tokyo Bay Area.
Its combined container cargo throughput reached 72 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units), around 5.5 times the combined throughput of the world’s top three Big Bay areas.
The combined economic size of this Bay Area is close to that of world’s 10th largest economy.
It is envisioned that the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area will become one of world’s major city clusters.
As such, authorities have to adopt a mentality of innovation, mutual opening and sharing within the 10 mainland cities in the area when planning Hong Kong’s economic future.
Hong Kong has to give full play to its unique advantages and play a more active role in China’s overall economic development.
However, there are many pending technical issues, such as how to improve air traffic control efficiency and manage traffic flows in the region as well as achieve synergy in cross-border infrastructure projects.
There are so many administrative barriers that stall regional integration. Issues like how to facilitate the flow of talents, goods, capital and information in the future are challenging.
The cities comprising the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area should focus on their own strengths.
For example, Hong Kong is positioned as a global financial center, Guangzhou is a trading hub, Shenzhen is a center for technological innovation, while Macau is a leisure and tourism hub.
These cities should cooperate with one another in future development and resources allocation.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 27
Translation by Julie Zhu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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