Chief Secretary for Administration | The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

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The Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area: Innovation, Mutual benefits and Synergy

3 March 2019

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On 18 February, the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Outline Development Plan), which sets out the directions guiding the development of the Greater Bay Area, was promulgated by the Central Government.  On 21 February, the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao jointly held a Symposium on the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area to introduce the contents of the Outline Development Plan, explore the development opportunities of the Greater Bay Area and take forward the key areas of work.

Last Thursday (28 February), I attended a press conference held in Beijing by the State Council Information Office, during which I highlighted the main points of the Outline Development Plan and answered questions from the media.

The development of the Greater Bay Area is a national strategy personally devised, planned and advocated by President Xi Jinping. The promulgation of the Outline Development Plan, which signifies a new milestone in the development of the Greater Bay Area, can help society better understand the basic principles and broad directions of the development of the Greater Bay Area, and then consider how to seize the new opportunities. A full version of the Outline Development Plan is available at the Greater Bay Area website(www.bayarea.gov.hk) set up by the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau.  Let me highlight the importance of the Outline Development Plan here.

(1) Concerning Hong Kong’s long-term economic development The Outline Development Plan can help Hong Kong develop into an international metropolis with enhanced competitiveness.  It clearly supports Hong Kong in consolidating and enhancing its status as international financial, transportation and trade centres as well as an international aviation hub; strengthening Hong Kong’s status as a global offshore Renminbi business hub and its role as an international asset management centre and a risk management centre; promoting the development of high-end and high value-added financial, commercial and trading, logistics and professional services; making great efforts to develop the innovation and technology industries; nurturing emerging industries; and establishing Hong Kong as the centre for international legal and dispute resolution services in the Asia-Pacific region.

The above development directions will shape Hong Kong’s future, covering various sectors and industries and affecting the performance of businesses, the prospects of wage earners, the daily lives of the general public, as well as the upward mobility of the youth and the next generation.  Therefore, the Outline Development Plan have a direct bearing on the Hong Kong people.

(2) Enriching the practice of “One Country, Two Systems” The successful implementation of “One Country, Two Systems” in Hong Kong is the key foundation for the internationalisation of the Greater Bay Area. Given the unique dual advantages of “One Country, Two Systems”, Hong Kong is able to play an important role in the development of the Greater Bay Area. The fact is that leaders of the Central People’s Government have time and again emphasised that in the process of the development of the Greater Bay Area, the principle of “One Country, Two Systems” and “people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong” with a high degree of autonomy will be strictly adhered to and that such a principle will remain unshaken, intact and undistorted.

Some people worry that the Outline Development Plan will undermine the principle of “One Country, Two Systems”.  In fact, the Outline Development Plan will not breach the principle of “One Country, Two Systems” or weaken Hong Kong’s status as a separate customs territory.  On the contrary, it will further enrich the practice of “One Country, Two Systems” in the process of the development of the Greater Bay Area, which will be conducive to maintaining the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.

(3) Hong Kong’s new role in the country’s further reform and opening up Hong Kong has been enjoying joint development and shared prosperity with our nation.  As both a “contributor” to and a “beneficiary” of the country’s reform in the past, Hong Kong will continue to play an important role in the development of the Greater Bay Area.  But its role will change from being a “connector” to being a more proactive “participant”, “facilitator” and “promoter”.  Hong Kong can extend its international connections and experiences to the Mainland and help bring in foreign investments, as well as join hands with Mainland enterprises to develop overseas markets and explore opportunities for “going global”.  In doing so, we can enhance the economic development of both the Mainland and Hong Kong and realise mutual benefits.

(4) Joint participation of the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao The Outline Development Plan is the best manifestation of the close co-operation amongst the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao and their positive interaction with the Central Government.  Joint efforts have been made to draw up and introduce policies and measures for the development of the Greater Bay Area.  In the process of formulating the Outline Development Plan, the Hong Kong SAR Government put great efforts into relaying the views our bureaux and departments obtained from consulting relevant sectors and stakeholders.  The Central Government has attached great importance to those views and accepted them.

(五) Displaying concepts of innovation, mutual benefits and synergy The Greater Bay Area covers the two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao and nine cities in the Guangdong Province, namely Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing.  With a population of 70 million and a gross domestic product amounting to US$1.5 trillion, it is an enormous market of comparable size to that of Korea.  The Greater Bay Area is to be developed under the conditions of one country, two systems, three customs territories and three currencies, without any precedents internationally.  It is a pioneering move which requires new thinking outside the box to break new ground.

According to the Outline Development Plan, Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are identified as core cities, as well as core engines for driving regional development.  The four cities will leverage their comparative advantages and achieve a radiating effect in leading the development of nearby regions.  It is planned that the Greater Bay Area cities will join hands to achieve co-ordinated economic development.  The objectives are to leverage the complementary advantages of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao; develop an international first-class bay area for living, working and travelling; and further enhance the Greater Bay Area’s supporting and leading role in the country’s economic development and opening up.

In short, the Outline Development Plan will help society better understand the basic principles and broad policy directions of the development of the Greater Bay Area.  The future of Hong Kong hinges on how well it can seize the present opportunities to enjoy brighter prospects amid its integration into the overall development of the country.

The Hong Kong SAR Government has kept in close contact with relevant central ministries and the governments of Guangdong and Macao to draw up and introduce policies and measures for the development of the Greater Bay Area.  On the day before yesterday (1 March), the Chief Executive attended the second plenary meeting of the Leading Group for the Development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area convened by the Vice Premier of the State Council, Mr Han Zheng, in Beijing.  The Chief Executive and the Hong Kong SAR Government welcomed the eight policy measures introduced by the Central Government for taking forward the development of the Greater Bay Area.  They are facilitating measures for Hong Kong residents to develop, work and reside in the Mainland cities of the Greater Bay Area, and for strengthening the convenient flow of people and goods within the Greater Bay Area.

We will do everything we can to actively explore new development directions, expand fresh development space and give new development impetus for Hong Kong.  Specifically, we will conduct various publicity and promotional activities to enable the business sector and the general public, especially the younger generation, to understand how they can make use of the opportunities offered by the Greater Bay Area to expand their room for development and explore more choices.