The southern province of Guangdong has vowed to expand cooperation with the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, under the "one country, two systems" framework, to speed up the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
In his government work report delivered to Guangdong Provincial People's Congress on Thursday, Ma Xingrui, governor of Guangdong, said the province aims to build a world-class bay area through cooperation with the two SARs, and to ensure new opening-up to the outside world.
In addition to Hong Kong and Macao, the Greater Bay Area includes the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Dongguan, Foshan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing in Guangdong province.
Ma said Guangdong is considering further lowering its threshold for special personnel to open their offices in the province in the months ahead. The move aims to attract more skilled workers to support Guangdong's economic construction as the province - one of the country's economic powerhouses -needs a large number of professionals from home and abroad to help ensure sustainable economic growth.
The province hopes to attract more big name companies and scientific research institutes to set up research and development centers in the province, Ma said.
"Guangdong is hoping to join hands with investors from Hong Kong and Macao to develop its free trade zones, to further improve the province's trading capacity in the years ahead," Ma said.
The province's three free trade zones include Nansha, Qianhai and Hengqin, located in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai, respectively.
According to Ma, another motivation behind the cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao is to actively participate in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative.
He said he expects the cooperation can help Guangdong to become a new international innovation center and a major transport hub, by further improving infrastructural links with the two SARs. Ma urged the relevant departments in his province to help accelerate the launch of the high-speed railway between Guangdong and Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge this year.
Guangdong, China's window of reform and opening-up, has led economic development in the mainland for 29 years straight. According to Ma, the province is targeting a GDP growth rate of 7 percent this year.
Last year, the province's GDP totaled 8.99 trillion yuan(.42 trillion), compared with the 5.8 trillion yuan recorded in 2012. The province has reported an average annual growth rate of 7.9 percent over the past five years.