16 July 2019
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, which opened on Oct. 24, is seen as part of China's plan for the Greater Bay Area. Photo: CNSA
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, which opened on Oct. 24, is seen as part of China's plan for the Greater Bay Area. Photo: CNSA

Opinions mixed on HK future under Greater Bay Area plan

As Beijing is to unveil the blueprint for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which is home to nearly 70 million people, opinions on the impact of the plan on Hong Kong are widely divided.

The Outline Development Plan for the Greater Bay Area, which covers Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong province, is expected to be formally announced on Monday at the earliest, or three days before the National Development and Reform Commission is scheduled to hold a symposium in Hong Kong to explain it, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

It is understood that the outline development plan consists of 11 chapters, encompassing innovation and technology, finance, shipping, transportation and logistics, connectivity, youth, education and medical services, among other areas of development.

It mainly provides broad directions and does not specify detailed measures to be implemented.

While the plan is expected to help Hong Kong in its pursuit of new areas of growth, critics worry that the city’s long-term benefits may be exploited, autonomy affected and directions of development restricted as a result.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said last week that the blueprint will not specify projects to be implemented.

On Sunday Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen told media that the plan will seek to consolidate and strengthen the industries where Hong Kong has enjoyed clear advantages, such as logistics, transportation, legal services and other professional services.

Moreover, it will present new areas of growth for the economy and make its industries more diversified, Nip said.

Calling the plan an important milestone for Hong Kong’s development, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung stressed that the Greater Bay Area signifies innovation, a policy that Hong Kong should act on.

On the other hand, Civic Passion leader and lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai told RTHK’s City Forum on Sunday that Beijing will use the Greater Bay Area as a means to reach out to the world even more via Hong Kong.

As such, under the initiative, Hong Kong’s role will be limited to what it is told to do based on the mainland’s development plans, Cheng said.

He said it will be like the administration coaxing a whole generation of Hongkongers into “boarding a pirate ship” and the cost will be Hong Kong losing the right to plan its future on its own. 

Defending the plan, lawmaker Ip Kwok-him, who is also a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress and an Executive Council member, said the Greater Bay Area can combine Hong Kong’s free economy with the planned system implemented in the mainland.

This, he said, will make the Bay Area better than others of its kind in the world and draw international attention.

Ip said it is a fallacy to claim that Hong Kong’s current system will suffer under the Beijing-led planning, an idea that he suspected might have resulted from the lack of sufficient understanding of the economy.

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Speaking at RTHK’s City Forum on Sunday, Civic Passion lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai (second from right) said the plan will result in Hong Kong losing the right to plan its future on its own. Photo: RTHK

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