20 April 2019
Leung Chun-ying examines a plan for Guangdong's Greater Bay Area. The project has become a top priority by the outgoing administration. Photo: CNSA
Leung Chun-ying examines a plan for Guangdong's Greater Bay Area. The project has become a top priority by the outgoing administration. Photo: CNSA

HK’s mandatory integration with Guangdong a slippery slope

The development of the Greater Bay Area in Guangdong province is on top of the agenda for outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his allies.

Hong Kong’s response has been lukewarm but a veteran pro-Beijing loyalist suggests the central government adopt the Hong Kong livelihood model in order to overcome Hongkongers’ misgivings about the project. 

The Hong Kong government is collecting opinions regarding its role in the Greater Bay Area development and will submit its findings to the National Development and Reform Commission for consideration.

The government is proposing to integrate Hong Kong into the Bay Area with the movement of talent, logistics and capital.

Executive councilor Cheng Yiu-tong, former chairman of the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions, suggests “information flow” to further integrate Hong Kong and the Bay Area.

According to Cheng, information flow will enable Hong Kong people to work, live and study in the Bay Area just like in Hong Kong.

“I suggest the central government adopt an open policy to enable Hong Kong people living in the Greater Bay Area to watch Hong Kong television channels, use Whatsapp or Facebook as well as cancel international phone call arrangements between Hong Kong and China,” Cheng told a media briefing earlier this week.

Cheng said many Hong Kong people don’t feel the effectiveness of the central government’s initiatives on Hong Kong, especially the grassroots.

But this time, the Greater Bay Area plan should benefit all Hong Kong people, he said.

Cheng raised the international call arrangement between Hong Kong and China as an example, saying that phone charges between the two sides should be cancelled given Hong Kong and China are the same country. It should benefit everyone if the charge is cancelled, he said, adding China Mobile can solve the issue.

It seems Cheng would like to introduce Hong Kong’s system to China but is it Beijing’s policy to turn the Greater Bay Area into a Hong Kong-like regional economic hub? Or is Beijing’s ultimate plan to eliminate the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau once the “one country, two systems” arrangements expire?

Of course, Beijing’s top leaders won’t tell you the answer. It’s possible that Beijing is using the Bay Area project to erode the uniqueness of Hong Kong and turn it into just another city in the Greater Bay Area.

Cheng’s suggestion to remove the international phone call arrangement between Hong Kong and China ignores “two systems” given Hong Kong’s unique position before returning to Chinese rule 20 years ago.

In fact, Cheng pointed out that the core issue in the integration between Hong Kong and China is the difference in the systems between the two sides.

He said Hong Kong people cannot connect to the internet freely in China due to the Great Firewall and Hong Kong television signal could be interrupted at any time. That’s because China controls the media and communications channels while Hong Kong uses an open platform without any censorship.

If the Beijing authorities accept Cheng’s suggestion to remove censorship for Hong Kong residents living in the Greater Bay Area, why don’t they scrap the whole Great Firewall across the country to benefit Chinese people?

The Greater Bay Area development is a central government policy to push the Pearl Delta Region economy, but the mandatory integration of Hong Kong into the mainland economy could just make things worse, forcing Hong Kong people to work, live and retire in the area.

Hong Kong has its own economic structure. Its legal system and financial market play an important role in supporting the Chinese economy.

There is no reason for Beijing to limit Hong Kong’s contribution to Guangdong.

However, Leung Chun-ying and other senior officials have been telling Hong Kong people to migrate to Guangdong.

The theory is that as more Hongkongers migrate to Guangdong, there will be more room to accommodate mainlanders in Hong Kong, enabling them to experience the Hong Kong way of life.

Some opposition politicians have pointed out the strange phenomenon of government officials promoting the Greater Bay Area to Hong Kong people.

It’s not simply promoting the economic benefits but also aiming to brainwash Hong Kong people that their city is no longer a good place to live and that the Greater Bay Area is the answer.

Our leaders and politicians are trying their best to drive Hong Kong people out of their homes. 

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EJ Insight writer

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