Greater Bay Area to vitalize Hong Kong economy: chief executive
People's Daily Online

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, gives an exclusive interview to People’s Daily Online on March 4, 2019. (Photo: People’s Daily)

The development of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will inject new energy into the Hong Kong economy, and provide more and greater future opportunities for businesses and elites, especially the young people, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chief executive of the Hong Kong special administrative region (HKSAR) said in an interview with People’s Daily Online on March 4.

Her remarks came as Hong Kong has, in recent years, sped up its steps to integrate into the big pic-ture of national development and gained advantageous opportunity in the national drive to build the bay area and expand opening up.

Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area was written into China’s government work report for the first time in March 2017. Chinese authorities unveiled the outline development plan for the cluster on February 18 this year, with an aim to develop the region into "a role model of high-quality development".

The greater bay area will add more impetus to the economic growth of Hong Kong by bringing its advantages into full play, said the chief executive.

Hong Kong, an economy backed up by service industry rather than manufacturing, needs both sci-entific, technological innovation and advanced manufacturing industry to support its reindustrializa-tion and "Industry 4.0" vision, according to the chief executive.

She added that with a sound coordinated development of the region and mainland cities, Hong Kong can focus more on research, transformation and incubation of scientific technologies, while setting production bases in mainland cities encompassed by the bay area.

Hong Kong, as a global financial center, can offer funding platforms for tech and other innovation-oriented firms, she said, adding that a strong financing capacity is a premise for scientific and tech-nological innovations.

After the Hong Kong section of an express rail link connecting the region with Guangzhou and Shenzhen and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge opened to traffic last year, they also create favorable opportunities for the development of the bay area, Lam noted.

An “one hour living circle” --whereby travelling to and from Hong Kong will only cost an hour, has taken shape, she said, explaining that locals can arrive in Guangzhou in 45 minutes and Shenzhen in even less time if taking a high-speed train.

Thanks to the bridge, the travel between Hong Kong International Airport and Zhuhai has been shortened from 4 hours to about 45 minutes, she said, adding that ship is no longer a must-to-be choice for those heading for Macao.

The interconnected infrastructure facilitates the development of the cluster, and many businessmen are considering to live in Hong Kong but find a job in other cities within the bay area, said Lam.

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng, when presiding over a meeting on the greater bay area’s devel-opment on March 1, clarified the prior tasks and major policies for 2019.

Han, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, promised to roll out more favorable policies on personal income tax.

For the Hong Kong and Macao residents who stay in mainland cities, the days of departure and re-turn will be no longer calculated as residing time, according to Han, also head of the leading group for the development of the greater bay area, the nation's top decision-making unit for the national strategy.

The measure is most popular in Hong Kong, as it is the good news for those traveling between Hong Kong and other parts of China, Lam said.

When talking about the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held this April, Lam hoped that representatives attending the forum could discuss how Hong Kong can con-tribute to Belt and Road construction and how the greater bay area can be better integrated into the Belt and Road Initiative.

The bay area consists of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Macao Special Admin-istrative Region, as well as nine cities in Guangdong Province -- Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Fo-shan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing.

Covering 56,000 square kilometers, the bay area had a combined population of about 70 million at the end of 2017 and its GDP reached around 10 trillion yuan in 2017.