Bay areas expected to boom

Updated 2017-08-10 10:24:41 Global Times

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao integration initiative sets a precedent for other Chinese regions to follow suit and boost their economic growth

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has urged further development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Initiative highlighted in the 2017 Government Work Report. This reflects the central government's firm support of pushing forward this top-designed and ambitious plan. The initiative, which was first discussed in 2008, now intends to emphasize the region's role in global economic supply chains and is often compared to other bay areas such as those in San Francisco and Tokyo. Some experts have suggested that, after the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is established, more bay areas could also be considered in other Chinese regions. However, not every expert specializing in urbanization and city development agrees with the idea.

When the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area began to take shape, some experts looked beyond this region and suggested that China, like the U.S. and Japan, could have more than one bay area serving as the engines of regional economic growth.

"The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area covers nine cities in the Chinese mainland and two special administrative regions [SARs]. If they can be integrated in spite of different systems, why not unite other regions in the mainland that have more in common [with regard to governance]?" Xu Hongcai, deputy chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), asked recently.

This newly established bay area in South China is considered a pioneer, where adjacent metropolitan areas can share and exchange resources, Xu told the Global Times on Monday.

"The bay area's economic growth will outpace other regions, similar to how bay areas in the U.S. and Japan have performed," he said.

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area encompasses a total population of 100 million, with a GDP volume of over .34 trillion, equal roughly to the GDP of South Korea or that of Spain in 2016, China Central Television reported in April.

But bay areas in the U.S. and Japan have different characteristics.

For example, the Tokyo Bay Area is a cluster of industries, which add up to only 3.5 percent of Japan's total land. Nonetheless, it generates one-third of the economy's total GDP, news site tokyodailynews.com reported in April.

Bay areas are growth linchpins and drivers of innovation and can contribute to up to 60 percent of the global economy, according to media reports citing data from the World Bank.

The economic growth of the bay areas in the U.S. outpaced that of the rest of the states for the fifth consecutive year in 2015, San Francisco Chronicle reported in September 2016, citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Particularly, Silicon Valley, the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area, has attracted companies from around the world and become a hub of technological innovation.

As these two bay areas are the exemplars of the world, similar Chinese regions could follow suit, such as the Bohai Sea Rim - which encompasses provinces surrounding the Bohai Sea, including North China's Hebei, Northeast China's Liaoning and East China's Shandong provinces - and the Yangtze River Delta Region.

In fact, some related transportation projects, which are seen as first steps in improving connectivity in potential bay areas, have already taken place.

Mega-city cluster

The construction of a high-speed railway line connecting Beijing and Binhai New Area in North China's Tianjin is scheduled to kick off in September. Meanwhile, the feasibility report of another line linking Binhai to Weifang, a city in East China's Shandong Province, has been filed with the authorities, the Guangzhou-based 21st Century Business Herald newspaper reported on August 3.

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