Ladies and Gentlemen,
The joint development of the Guangdong Hong Kong Macao Greater Bay Area is a natural progression of the collaboration among the three components of the Greater Bay Area. This collaboration has been ongoing for hundreds of years. An area of Sheung Wan in Hong Kong known as Nanbei Hang (南北行）which literally means south-north enterprises is testimony to the trade that Hong Kong facilitated between Guangdong and Southeast Asia, the latter in those days was known as Nanyang. This collaboration between Hong Kong and Macao of the one part and Guangdong the other became exceptionally successful since Guangdong heralded in the reforms and opening up in the Country. It has been exceptionally successful for two reasons. One, Hong Kong leveraged on its international connections, super-connecting Guangdong and the rest of the world. Secondly, Guangdong was able to take timely, expeditious and bold opening-up measures. For the same reasons, this morning I am very pleased to join guests from Guangdong and other parts of the world at this conference.
Collaboration has brought, among other things, integration. The relocation and then expansion of Hong Kong manufacturing industries to Guangdong and the establishment of Hong Kong as a services centre of the region which started 40 years ago were clear signs of integration.
When it comes to the joint development of the Greater Bay Area, this question is often asked: will it impinge on the implementation of the “One Country Two Systems” arrangement? The short answer is “ no, it won’t.” The long answers is “since 1990 when the Basic Law was promulgated, one country two systems, Hong Kong People ruling Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy is not just a principle. It is clearly and legally defined in the 160 articles of the Basic Law.” The Greater Bay Area joint development is in keeping with the Basic Law.
The benefits of utilising the full synergies between Hing Kong and other Bay Area cities will be shared also with enterprises from other countries, existing or new. Hong Kong is the obvious regional head office location. Any enterprise that is based in Hong Kong can access the huge Bay Area market by commuting daily, using the trains, the highway network and of course the Bridge. Newcomers to Hong Kong with an eye on the Bay Area market do not need huge overheads. A core team of four based in Hong Kong - an expatriate, a local manager, a secretary and a driver, will set the Greater Bay Area business in motion. I have included a driver in the team because to my way of thinking, the Bridge and the vehicular crossings between Hong Kong and Shenzhen will as a matter of time be open to all Hong Kong licensed private vehicles. I mention newcomers for a good reason. The economic sectors of the Guangdong cities are quite different from Hong Kong’s. Business opportunities that are hitherto not available in Hong Kong are now available in Guangdong.
I could also envisage giving Hong Kong permanent residents who are not Chinese nationals the facility of going to the Bay Area cities in Guangdong on the strength of their Hong Kong permanent identity cards or a special Greater Bay Area pass, without requiring a visa. This move, together with the opening up of the bridge, would encourage the developments of Hong Kong and international boarding schools in the Guangdong cities, making use of the better land resources there, thus providing another choice to Hong Kong based parents.
The housing markets in all the Guangdong Bay Area cities can and in my view should also be opened up to all Hong Kong residents, regardless of nationalities. This policy can be fine-tuned by specifying the maximum number of units that can be owned by a Hong Kong resident at any one time, and the minimum price or size below which the market is closed to Hong Kong residents.
All the above will require reforms, opening up and policy innovations. It was exactly reforms, opening up and the supporting policy innovations that propelled the remarkable growth of the entire Greater Bay Area for four decades, non-stop. I expect and would indeed encourage equally bold moves on the part of all cities in the Area, Hong Kong included, to reap even greater benefits.