China’s new blueprints inject vitality into Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area

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Skyscrapers in China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone Qianhai & Shekou Area in Shenzhen, south China’s Guangdong province, June 1, 2020. (Photo by Wang Meiyan/People’s Daily Online)
Skyscrapers in China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone Qianhai & Shekou Area in Shenzhen, south China’s Guangdong province, June 1, 2020. (Photo by Wang Meiyan/People’s Daily Online)

By Lu Yanan

The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council recently issued a general plan for building a Guangdong-Macao in-depth cooperation zone in Hengqin New Area of south China’s Guangdong province and a plan for comprehensively deepening the reform and opening-up of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone, which will fuel the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

The official release of the two plans marks a new stage of all-round progress in the construction of the two cooperation zones in Hengqin New Area, Zhuhai city of Guangdong province and Qianhai, Shenzhen city of the province, said Lin Keqing, a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Guangdong Provincial Committee and executive vice governor of Guangdong province.

In recent years, Hengqin New Area has continuously boosted infrastructure construction and institutional innovation, laying a good foundation for building the Guangdong-Macao in-depth cooperation zone.

As cooperation between Shenzhen and Hong Kong has been constantly deepened, Qianhai has made many institutional innovations, attracting many enterprises in the modern service industry from Hong Kong and bringing convenience to Hong Kong residents’ life and work.

According to Cong Liang, deputy head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the plan for building a Guangdong-Macao in-depth cooperation zone was formulated to serve Macao’s long-term development and promote the integrated development of Hengqin and Macao.

Under the guiding principle of facilitating Macao’s economic diversification properly, the Guangdong-Macao in-depth cooperation zone is believed to serve as a new platform to boost the diversification of Macao’s economy, a new space benefiting Macao residents’ life and employment, a new model to enrich the practice of “one country, two systems”, as well as a new high ground for building the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Cong pointed out.

The plan also sets for the zone development goals, including improving systems and mechanisms, promoting the development of industries, and elevating the level of public services for the time periods that correspond to the terms of office of the Macao government in 2024 and 2029 and the stage before the year 2035, when China is expected to realize socialist modernization basically.

Eventually, the zone will foster new industries that can boost Macao’s economic diversification, build a new home for Macao residents which provides convenience for their life and employment, establish a new system that features integrated development with Macao and high-level openness, and improve the new mechanism of extensive consultation, joint contribution, joint management, and shared benefits between Guangdong and Macao.

Focusing on expanding the cooperation zone and deepening reform and opening up, the blueprint for the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone specifies three tasks, including expanding the development space of the cooperation zone, creating an innovation test platform for comprehensively deepening reform, and building a hub for high-level opening up, Cong said.

The total area of the cooperation zone will be expanded from 14.92 square kilometers to 120.56 square kilometers, and relevant supporting policies will cover the entire cooperation zone after the expansion, according to the plan.

The plan clearly states that the cooperation zone will take the lead in implementing major pilot reform tasks and sets multiple tasks including promoting the innovative development of the modern service industry and accelerating the reform and innovation of institutions and mechanisms for the development of science and technology.

In addition, the plan elaborates on building a new system of open economy of higher standards. It proposes powerful measures for facilitating trade in services with Hong Kong and Macao, further expanding opening up in the financial industry, etc.

The construction of the two cooperation zones has provided a new and vital historic opportunity for Guangdong’s reform and development in the new development stage and serves as a strategic focus for Guangdong to contribute to the “one country, two systems” practice, a strategic platform for Guangdong to comprehensively deepen reforms, and strategic support for the province’s efforts to promote the country’s new development paradigm, Lin noted.

The release of the general plan for building a Guangdong-Macao in-depth cooperation zone in Hengqin New Area represents an essential move for supporting Macao in achieving appropriate economic diversification and enriching the “one country, two systems” practice, and will inject new impetus into the long-term development of Macao, said Cheong Weng Chon, secretary for administration and justice of the Macao government.

The plan for comprehensively deepening the reform and opening-up of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone will help promote higher-level cooperation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen and giving full play to their roles as the engines for the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, said Lee Ka-chiu, chief secretary for administration of the Hong Kong government.

Business circles and professional service providers in Hong Kong have actively prepared themselves for seizing the new opportunities to be brought by the plan, the official said, adding that the Hong Kong government will discuss with relevant central government departments how to implement the measures for further expanding the opening up of trade in services set out in the plan through the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement.

The Hong Kong government will, together with relevant industries, provide advice and coordinate efforts to facilitate the development of the cooperation zone in Qianhai in financial services, innovation, and technology, legal services, and business environment, and continue strengthening cooperation with the governments of Guangdong and Shenzhen to further support young people from Hong Kong in making innovations and starting their own businesses in Qianhai, according to the official.

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