China unveils ambitious Greater Bay Area plan

Those are some grand plans.

    2019/02/28

NSFW    CHINA — China's State Council has revealed details of a plan to promote economic cooperation among several major cities in the Pearl River Delta.

The Greater Bay Area plan will integrate and transform Hong Kong, Macau, and nine other cities in China's Guangdong province into 'a global center of technology, innovation, and economic vibrancy.

According to HSBC research, the region is currently home to 70 million people, and produces 37% of the country's exports and 12% of its GDP. With closer integration of the cities, China hopes this output will increase.

The South China Morning Post reports that the plan is for cities to serve as key hubs for different sectors. Hong Kong will be the international finance, transport, and trade center, while Macau will serve as a hub for tourism and platform for trade with Portuguese-speaking countries.

Other core cities include Guangzhou as the provincial capital and administrative hub, Shenzhen as the center for technology and innovation, and Dongguan as a high-tech manufacturing hub.

Infrastructure is being developed to increase connectivity between cities. This includes the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, which is the world's longest sea crossing bridge, and the high speed rail link from Hong Kong to the Mainland.

According to the BBC, the Greater Bay Area is being set up to rival Silicon Valley, and major metropolitan areas like Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York. But while the Greater Bay Area's GDP already surpasses that of San Francisco, it lags behind New York and Tokyo.

The region could face challenges in economic integration, since Hong Kong and Macau have their own monetary, legal, and political systems separate from the Mainland. Talent distribution across the 11 cities may also be an issue, since most will be drawn to the bigger cities like Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

The Hong Kong Free Press reports that the plan has been met with skepticism by the island's pro-democracy lawmakers, who allege that the development of Mainland cities will come at the expense of Hong Kong.

A Bloomberg opinion piece notes that 'Hong Kong seems to be the likely loser', adding that the plan is vague on how integration will affect Hong Kong and Macau's special status.
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