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MAO YANHUA: Mainland cooperation with Hong Kong, Macao enters new phase

| 2018-06-06
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

The 2018 central government work report announced that the country will unveil and implement a development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and promote mutually beneficial cooperation in all areas between the mainland, Hong Kong, and Macao.

Since the 2017 central government work report proposed drafting a plan for the development of a city cluster in this area, there has been widespread discussion on the significance of the development plan for the area and the potential key sectors of development. The decision to unveil and implement the development plan for the area signifies that the mutually beneficial cooperation between the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao has entered a new phase.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong and Macao became the window through which the mainland conducted foreign contacts. Since the reform and opening up, Hong Kong and Macao, with the mainland—especially the Pearl River Delta Region—have gradually formed a complementary cooperation model of industrial division. During its process of successfully transitioning into a service economy, the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions have made important contributions to the industrialization and outward-oriented developing economy of the mainland.

Throughout the reform and opening up, the two cities have played the role as a bridge and passageway through which the mainland attracts foreign investment and expands foreign trade, serving the bigger picture of the country’s reform and opening up.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the reform and opening up policy. The unveiling and implementation of the plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will enable Hong Kong and Macao to fully realize their unique advantages.

 The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area stands out as one of the regions with the highest level of openness and the most developed economy in China, and the area’s participation in the construction of the “Belt and Road” initiative could constantly enhance its international influence in some advantageous sectors, such as finance, trade and shipping, improving the area’s ability to allocate global resources. Therefore, the cooperation on greater openness of the area will not only support China as it establishes a new pattern of comprehensive openness to the outside world but also help to expand the market room of high-end services in Hong Kong, strengthen Macao’s function as a hub for China-Portugal economic and trade cooperation, and build a platform for multicultural communication.

Furthermore, with the deepening of the division of labor in the global value chain, the focus of the global competition has changed from the cargo flow through customs to the ability to attract global innovation elements. The development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will advance the area’s innovation into emerging fields, such as biomedical, intelligent manufacturing and smart city, building the area into a center of international technological innovation.

Since the return of Hong Kong and Macao to China, they have maintained stable economic and social development. However, due to their limited space, homogenous industrial structure, high business cost and other factors, the two cities both face problems of imbalanced and inadequate economic and social development. The development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will  facilitate the convenient circulation of people, logistics, capital flow and information flow in the area. At the same time, while revolving around building a high-quality life circle in the area and fully realizing the top-level design and overall coordination of the central government, the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao could, by strengthening the coordination of cross-border public policy, innovating the mode of public service offering, and perfecting the policies for residents from Hong Kong and Macao to study, work and live in the area, provide more opportunities for residents from the two cities to develop their careers on the mainland—who, while serving the country, fulfill their own personal development.


Mao Yanhua is a professor from the Center for Studies of Hong Kong, Macao and Pearl River Delta at Sun Yat-Sen University.

(edited by BAI LE)