Mr YUEN Mo (Chairman of the 52nd terms of office) October 2021
It is crucial that the HKSAR government accelerate the pace of the development of New Territories North to align Hong Kong with Qianhai, so as to create new opportunities for both places and the Greater Bay Area at large.
Earlier, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council promulgated the Plan for Comprehensive Deepening Reform and Opening Up of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone (Qianhai Plan), the goal of which is to turn Qianhai into an engine for high-quality development with strong capability in global resources allocation, breeding innovation and leading coordinated development by 2035. In addition to deepening Hong Kong-Shenzhen cooperation, the Qianhai Plan will have a decisive impact on the growth of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area) and even Hong Kong’s integration into the overall national development.
An expanded Qianhai means greater room for cooperation
Under the Qianhai Plan, the area of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone (Qianhai cooperation zone) will be increased by seven times. The inclusion of the convention and exhibition, logistics, marine, and other important industries anticipates a high level of cooperation between Shenzhen and Hong Kong. The two cities can, for instance, jointly grow the port business; the well-established MICE industry of Hong Kong can lend its experience to the planning of the Convention & Exhibition New Town; and boasting a world-class standard in airport management, Hong Kong can deepen cooperation with Shenzhen in the area of aviation to pursue a win-win situation.
Institutional innovation is key to development
The highlight of the Qianhai Plan is to promote a development model with institutional innovation at its core, and to realize the full integration of Hong Kong and Shenzhen. In fact, President Xi Jinping pointed out that the key to the development of the Greater Bay Area is innovation, and the most important form of it is institutional innovation.
The Qianhai Plan proposes the fostering of innovative development of modern service industries, and the acceleration of the building of a system of modern services to be used in both Hong Kong and Macao that is compatible with international standards. Qianhai can be expected to be “a special administrative region within a special administrative region” that will pivot “innovation beyond innovation”. There are also breakthroughs in terms of conditions and support for Hong Kong’s professional sectors to tap into the Qianhai and Greater Bay Area markets.
For the financial industry, the Qianhai Plan supports the implementation of the country’s policy to advance the opening up of the financial sector in Qianhai, with which Hong Kong will form a high level of synergy and strong connection. In addition, the cross-border RMB innovation pilot that will start in Qianhai, together with the now launched Cross-boundary Wealth Management Connect and Southbound Trading under Bond Connect, will bolster the connectivity between the Mainland and Hong Kong financial markets and consolidate Hong Kong’s status as the largest global hub for offshore RMB business.
For legal services, Hong Kong solicitors and barristers familiar with the laws of both jurisdictions will be allowed to provide top-quality legal services in the Qianhai cooperation zone. Meanwhile, as the Qianhai Plan pushes for the development of various innovation and technology (I&T) disciplines, Hong Kong’s tertiary institutions, research and development (R&D) organizations as well as companies will receive greater support to set up new R&D institutes and key laboratories.
The Qianhai Plan also proposes to make it more convenient for young people from Hong Kong and Macao to study, work and live in Qianhai. Not long ago, the All-China Youth Federation and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the People’s Republic of China announced that they would offer to Hong Kong young people 10,000 jobs, 10,000 internship positions and support for entrepreneurship projects over the next five years. These measures are going to significantly expand the opportunities for Hong Kong youths to start their careers and businesses in the Greater Bay Area.
Expanding Shenzhen-Hong Kong cooperation in Qianhai
To conclude, not only should Hong Kong promote Shenzhen-Hong Kong cooperation in Qianhai, but it is even more important to take advantage of the Qianhai platform to integrate into the national development. Through deepening cooperation with Qianhai and leveraging its own international network, Hong Kong can introduce foreign products into the Mainland market. At the same time, it can encourage Hong Kong investments to contribute to the progress of the domestic circulation strategy. It is especially crucial that the HKSAR government accelerate the pace of the development of New Territories North to align Hong Kong with Qianhai, so as to create new opportunities for both places and the Greater Bay Area at large.