Beijing unveils plan to form a 'Greater Bay Area' in southern China

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Beijing unveils plan to form a 'Greater Bay Area' in southern China

The plans pledged to enhance Hong Kong's status as an global finance, transportation and trade centre and Macau will focus on becoming an worldwide tourism hub and platform for trade with Portuguese-speaking countries such as Brazil.

China has revealed ambitious plans to build its own Greater Bay Area to rival Silicon Valley in the US.

"The development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area is not only a new attempt to break new ground in the country's pursuit of opening up on all fronts in a new era, but also a further step in taking forward the implementation of "one country, two systems"," a government spokesman said.

Macau's role within the Greater Bay Area, as previously stated, would be to establish the city as a "World Centre for Tourism and Leisure" and a bridge between China and lusophone countries.

"First, it can help identify new areas of growth for Hong Kong and foster the diversified development of its economy and industries".

Analysts believe the bay area will play a more active role in further expanding the forefront of the country's opening-up and generating fresh momentum for high-quality development.

Beijing's previous special economic or free trade zones in many cases have yielded little more than wasteful infrastructure spending and higher property prices.

The plan was met with scepticism from pro-democracy lawmakers, with Democratic Party Chairperson Wu Chi-wai saying that Lam had lost the initiative in Hong Kong's development.

Following the programmatic plan, the building of a dynamic and internationally competitive bay area and a world-class city cluster will be realized through hard work, said the commentary.

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It is particularly worth noting that the plan aims to promote institutional connectivity via unifying rules on legal services, finance, medical, construction and other fields for the goal of enhancing the level of market integration and penetrability.

The blueprint's failure to delineate clearly how Hong Kong's status will be protected suggests either that the Bay Area plan is more hype than practical programme, or that political objectives will trump economic considerations. The next milestone would be 2035, when markets within the bay area would be highly connected.

Only the people of Hong Kong will decide whether they will "seize the opportunities to improve Hong Kong's economy and our people's livelihoods", she told reporters in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

Professor Chen Guanghan from Sun Yat-sen University and vice-dean of the Research Institute of the Development of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau said the plan "would face many problems in trying to integrate these different systems". Hong Kong passed the enabling legislation in June, but only after China's national parliament stepped in to ratify the plan. "Hong Kong is not the top dog in the Greater Bay Area, but it is still one of the four core cities".

The plan was created to facilitate overall and long-term development.

It said citizens of Taiwan and other countries could also be placed in jeopardy by the proposed changes, should they travel through Hong Kong, should Beijing decide that it wanted to accuse them of a crime.

The plan also hopes to encourage insurance firms in the region to jointly develop cross-boundary insurance products which will allow policy holders to easily buy products and make claims.

However, complex issues such as which customs, tax and legal systems would predominate were left out of the plan.

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