Dr Jonathan CHOI Koon-shum (Chairman of the 51st terms of office) October 2019
As long as Hong Kong and Shenzhen cooperate fully on policies, they should be able to play a key leading role in advancing the development of the Greater Bay Area.
The State Council expressed its opinions on supporting Shenzhen in establishing a pilot demonstration zone for socialism with Chinese characteristics (Opinions) a month ago. There are concerns that the demonstration zone will quicken the pace of Shenzhen taking over Hong Kong’s position. In my view, people have read too much into it. In fact, this strategic plan for Shenzhen, which has been brewing for over six months, is basically aligned with planning for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area), and the policy orientation is mainly focused on Hong Kong-Shenzhen cooperation. This is particularly evident in three areas: innovation and technology (I&T), finance, and healthcare.
Driving the transformation of I&T achievements
The Opinions mentioned the need for Shenzhen to set up a comprehensive national science center. As it turns out, the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park in the Lok Ma Chau Loop, a project actively promoted by the two governments, can provide vital support to drive deeper I&T cooperation between the two cities. In fact, while Hong Kong’s I&T institutions and universities are strong in upstream scientific research, there is always a dearth of room for expansion. Through joint efforts in building and sharing large-scale I&T infrastructure and facilities, as well as leveraging Hong Kong’s strengths, Hong Kong and Shenzhen can play a leading role in I&T development in the Greater Bay Area.
In addition, the Opinions clearly supports Shenzhen’s implementation of mechanisms that are more open and convenient for attracting external talents and exit-entry administration. Hence, Hong Kong’s technology professionals working in Shenzhen will enjoy broader benefits, while factors and resources, such as technology equipment and capital, can flow between the two cities easily and orderly. The relevant arrangements will attract more global scientific research firms to the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park to strategically fast-track their entry into the Mainland market.
Leveraging Hong Kong’s unique strengths in finance
The Opinions puts forward several proposals for interconnecting Shenzhen’s financial markets with those of Hong Kong and Macao, which will have far-reaching significance in promoting Hong Kong-Shenzhen cooperation in finance. Under the Greater Bay Area initiative, Shenzhen’s pilot demonstration zone can serve as an intermediary platform to improve cross-boundary matching and innovation of financial products. It is instrumental in deepening interconnectivity between Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area, and boosting interaction between Hong Kong and Shenzhen in offshore and onshore RMB markets. The demonstration zone can also strengthen broad-based Hong Kong-Shenzhen collaboration in innovative fintech applications.
Under the “One Country, Two Systems” framework, Hong Kong’s unique strengths include free inflow and outflow of capital and absence of foreign exchange control. We must make better use of these strengths to provide critical support for the Greater Bay Area, so as to connect with international financial markets and explore innovative cross-border financial regulation.
Expanding cross-boundary medical and welfare services
The Opinions also proposes to further facilitate Hong Kong medical institutions’ investment in Shenzhen and relax the qualification requirements for Hong Kong’s medical professionals to practice in Shenzhen. This will help Hong Kong’s healthcare industry further expand its market and enhance its influence. Homogenizing the medical services and medical management models of Hong Kong and Shenzhen will provide the basis for further expanding cross-boundary use of Hong Kong’s welfare benefits and ensure the rationality of using Hong Kong’s social welfare in Shenzhen.
The improvement of Shenzhen’s medical service capabilities as well as Hong Kong’s cross-boundary welfare system will provide better social and livelihood services for more and more Hongkongers in Shenzhen and the Greater Bay Area, thus attracting more Hongkongers to capture development opportunities in the Greater Bay Area.
To sum up, as the Opinions is closely aligned with the Greater Bay Area’s development direction, many of its strategic positions offer opportunities for Hong Kong and Shenzhen to deepen cooperation and complement each other’s strengths. As long as Hong Kong and Shenzhen cooperate fully on policies, they should be able to play a key leading role in advancing the development of the Greater Bay Area and actively integrate into the country’s overall development landscape. We will be better prepared to drive the new phase of wide-ranging reform and opening-up, while aligning with Belt and Road market opportunities to provide vital support for the country to advance toward high-quality development.