Cooperation vital to build thriving bay area
dong-Hong Kong-Macao Big Bay Area city cluster has topped $1.36 trillion, outrunning the San Francisco Bay area,” Wei said.
Cai Guanshen, chairman of Hong Kong-based Sunwah Group, added that by 2025, “the total GDP of the Greater Bay Area is expected to outrank the Tokyo Bay Area”, topping $2.5 trillion, and will be double that number in 20 years.
The Framework Agreement on Guangdong-Hong KongMacao Cooperation in the Development of the Bay Area was signed earlier this month, addressing key cooperation areas including infrastructure, market integration, fueling innovation and improving the quality of life.
To achieve further prosperity in the region, he said bay area leaders should enhance the existing cooperation with the Pan-Pearl River Delta (PPRD) and make bigger use of the leading positions of Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao.
“The bay area also develops faster than others, and we need to learn from the established bay areas from (around) the world,” Wei said. “The PPRD can provide solid support for the big bay area strategy with its abundant labor, talent pool, market and materials. While the PPRD can transfer its industries, technology and skilled workers into the bay area, Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao can act as leaders to lift the economy in the PPRD up with its advantages.”
Wei said cities with vigor and vitality such as Shenzhen and Dongguan can further drive demand while Guangzhou and Hong Kong can push the service industry forward. He suggested the area can host more international art festivals, promote its tourism and fashion industries, turning the area into a world-class city cluster of high-end design.
The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Big Bay Area is also a window to the Chinese culture, showcasing the country’s soft power, as it combines unique folk culture of Hakka-speaking people, the Chaozhou-Shantou region, known for overseas Chinese, Hong Kong and Macao.
However, Wei pointed out, there are still hurdles to overcome in the process of building a top-notch big bay area.
During past attempts to cooperate with the PPRD, he said, the cities only minded their own business instead of aiming for a common goal, sometimes refusing to push the industrial transfer to lower-grade cities.
“We need to innovate in the economic system that can work in Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong, where two types of economic systems are applied,” Wei said. “And we also need to make use of each other’s advantages.”
Hong Kong, as an impor- tant post of the bay area, should play a bigger role in the world’s economy rather than just as a bridge between China and the rest of the world, since China has already become the world’s second-largest economy.
“Hong Kong has been crucial for the mainland’s economic growth and its opening-up to the world,” he said. “The past 20 years has seen booming prosperity in both the mainland and Hong Kong, especially after the implementation of CEPA (Closer Economic Partnership Agreement) in 2004. “Trade between the two has increased more than six-fold since 1996, leapfrogging from $40.7 billion annually to $305 billion in 2016,” he said.
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Wei Jianguo, vice-president of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges