16 June 2015
Guangdong-Hong Kong Cooperation to Scale New Heights
Professor Feng Xiaoyun from Guangzhou’s Jinan University envisages that Guangdong-Hong Kong cooperation is set to reach new heights during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020). In particular, under the country’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, the building of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Big Bay Area will bring about significant advances in Guangdong-Hong Kong cooperation. Hong Kong, as the only global city in the Greater Pearl River Delta (PRD) region, will perform the functions of leading the PRD to “go out” and raising the level of internationalisation of the regional economy, making the city cluster in the region the most vibrant and internationally competitive in the Asia Pacific.
Professor Feng Xiaoyun of the College of Economics, Jinan University, pointed out at an international forum held in May this year that Guangdong-Hong Kong cooperation is set to reach new heights during the 13th Five-Year Plan period. In order to better understand this view point, Pansy Yau, HKTDC’s deputy director of research, interviewed Professor Feng at the Guangzhou CUHK Kaifeng Hotel.
Guangdong-Hong Kong cooperation is set to make significant advances during the 13th Five-Year Plan period because according to the framework agreements on Guangdong-Hong Kong cooperation and Guangdong-Macau cooperation signed by Guangdong with Hong Kong and Macau respectively in 2010, the three places will join hands in building a world-class city cluster in the region by 2020. In view of this, in the next five years, i.e. during the 13th Five-Year Plan period, major breakthroughs can be expected in the mode and mechanism of cooperation between Guangdong and Hong Kong in the course of promoting integration of regional economy and in basically forming a world-class city cluster.
General speaking, city cluster has two definitions. One is spatial integration of a number of cities in a specific region. The other is functional integration of the cities in that region. Functional integration means that each city in the region would have its specific function(s) and the functions of all the cities will add together to create a complementary relationship. As such, a city cluster usually has clear division of functions with each city performing different economic functions, which will work together to form a competitive city cluster.
In the Outline of the Plan for the Reform and Development of the Pearl River Delta (2008-2020), clear division of functions has been set out for different cities in the PRD. This includes positioning Guangzhou as a modern services centre in the south China region; Shenzhen as a technological research and innovation centre; Foshan and Dongguan as international high-end manufacturing bases; Zhuhai, Zhongshan and Jiangmen as advanced manufacturing bases in the mainland; and Huizhou as a petrochemical base.
As for Hong Kong, its positioning is to serve as the engine propelling PRD cities to go international and develop into global cities. Within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau city cluster, Hong Kong’s biggest comparative advantage is its global network. As a matter of fact, in every city cluster, there is a city whose function is to lead the whole cluster to integrate into the global network. And the city undertaking this function is positioned as a global city. Currently, among the 11 cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau city cluster (comprising nine PRD cities, Hong Kong and Macau), Hong Kong is the only global city. In other words, the leader function performed by Hong Kong fully demonstrates her comparative advantage.
Hong Kong takes the lead among PRD cities in international transportation as well as commercial services such as financial and legal services, accounting, and marketing on a global level. Innovative systems being implemented in the Guangdong Pilot Free Trade Zone (GDFTZ) and efforts to further promote liberalisation of trade in services between Guangdong and Hong Kong are bound to strengthen Hong Kong’s role in leading the whole city cluster to integrate with the global network, as well as building the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Big Bay Area into an important hub along the Maritime Silk Road.
In the document Vision and Action on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road issued earlier by three State Council ministries and commissions, it was specifically mentioned that efforts will be made to give full play to the functions of the GDFTZ in strengthening cooperation with Hong Kong and Macau and creating the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Big Bay Area along the Maritime Silk Road, and that the big bay area will play a very significant role in the building of the Maritime Silk Road.
Note: The Guangdong provincial government announced the Implementation Plan of Guangdong Province for Participating in the Construction of “One Belt, One Road” on 3 June, putting forward that efforts will be made to build the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Big Bay Area into a first-class international financial and trade centre, technological and innovation centre, transportation and shipping centre, and cultural exchange centre on the Maritime Silk Road, and that action will be taken to build a logistics hub in the big bay area for trade between China and countries along the Maritime Silk Road.