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SAR braces for Bay impact

Editorial | Mary Ma Feb 18, 2019
The Greater Bay Area master plan will be published this week, with Hong Kong hosting a symposium on Thursday after the State Council releases the official documents as early as today. The plan is unlikely to provide policy details for each bay area city, just the general direction expected of them. It is a key national development project, second only to the "Belt and Road" policy. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was evidently jubilant when she broke the news to the media that the master plan would be announced this week. Curiously, she and her senior officials have since adopted a lower profile on the matter. Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, was rather cautious when answering a question on the issue on the sidelines of the Hong Kong Marathon yesterday. On the one hand, they must be aware of the fears that the political opposition is trying to stir up in relation to the "one country, two systems" policy. On the other hand, they must be concerned about the Sino-US trade war. If not for the war that Beijing is doing everything possible to avoid, the occasion would have been given a lot more official publicity. Now that even the publicity over Belt and Road is played down so as not to aggravate US President Donald Trump, the bay area is given less publicity than it deserves through merit. Yet, it might not be bad for Hong Kong to give the matter less trumpeting or drum rolls. If the United States could sabotage the Belt and Road policy by bad mouthing it in the international community, what would it think about the Chinese bay area that is being set up to take on California's Silicon Valley? Maybe a lower profile would spare Hong Kong some trouble. According to media reports, the Greater Bay Area is expected to work with the rising economic zones of Qianhai, Nansha and Hengqin. It is also connected to the Belt and Road policy to create synergy and serve the national goal of reaching out to nations along the corridors. It is envisioned that cities within the Greater Bay Area will be linked by quantum communication network - a cutting-edge communication technology that makes eavesdropping literally impossible. While what exactly each member within the bay area will do has yet to be announced, Hong Kong is expected to leverage on its niche as an international financial and arbitration center, and to be the center of the southern aviation hub, in addition to helping the nation make technology breakthroughs. It's necessary for the SAR to expand, as it's too small a place to sustain growth on its own. The Greater Bay Area has 67.6 million people - roughly the population of France, and more than that of Britain -- across 56,000 square kilometers, which offers greater depth for Hong Kong and its residents. A key to its success is travel convenience. Will Hongkongers be able to travel to and fro as readily as they've been doing with the MTR here?

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April 2019