The highly anticipated Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area was finally unveiled by the Chinese government on Monday.
A Hong Kong government spokesman has noted that the opportunities presented to the city by the Greater Bay Area project would manifest themselves in two major aspects.
“First, it can help identify new areas of growth for Hong Kong and foster the diversified development of its economy and industries.”
“Second, it will expand the space for living and development of Hong Kong residents.”
Under the plan, Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou and Shenzhen have been identified as core cities and core engines within the Bay Area, the spokesman said.
As far as Hong Kong is concerned, apart from continuing to serve as an global financial, transportation and trade center, as well as an international aviation hub, the plan envisages one new element for the city in relation to its future.
According to the development blueprint, Hong Kong has been assigned a new mission: to develop itself into the center for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region.
Although the idea of promoting such status in the Asia-Pacific region remains pretty much a concept at this stage, the fact that the central leaders have chosen Hong Kong to fulfill this particular role is tantamount to acknowledging the city’s established strength as a place that is governed by the rule of law.
As such, one can expect that in the coming days, Hong Kong may not only become the center for settling legal and commercial disputes, both foreign and domestic, within the neighborhood, it could also provide the benchmark for other Bay Area cities when it comes to integrating into the global markets.
One needs to bear in mind that the Greater Bay Area, which comprises nine mainland Chinese cities and two special administrative regions, is “one country, three systems”. While the nine Pearl River Delta cities fall within the jurisdiction of mainland laws, Hong Kong and Macau both have their own legal system and customs area.
In order to ensure successful implementation of this “one country, three systems”, we believe the best way forward is to allow Hong Kong, which has a definite advantage over mainland cities in the Greater Bay Area in terms of rule of law, to set the legal and judicial standards for the other Bay Area cities to follow.
Hong Kong’s progress in fulfilling its designated role as the center for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region would, to a large extent, determine the success of the entire Greater Bay Area.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 19
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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