Beijing authorities on Monday issued their much-touted outline for the development of the Greater Bay Area, which aims to link Hong Kong and Macau with nine cities in Guangdong into a "world-class city-cluster".
The plan released by the State Council had 11 chapters, covering a variety of areas – from the background of proposals for an innovation and technology hub to ecological conservation.
The project document includes a medium-term plan, which stretches to 2022, while the long-term vision is geared towards 2035.
The document says geographical advantages of the area, its economic strength and internationalisation, will be factors that form the foundation of the cooperation between the 11 cities.
A symposium on the plan will be held in Hong Kong on February 21, with officials from Macau and Guangdong attending.
The Guandong cities involved are Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Huizhou, Zhaoqing, Foshan, Jiangmen, Zhongshan and Zhuhai.
Under the plan, the four major cities in the area... Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou and Shenzhen... will act as so-called "core engines", providing momentum to other cities. For Hong Kong, in particular, its position as a world finance, port business, trade and aviation centre will be strengthened.
The document says the plan is necessary for Hong Kong as its economic growth engine lacks sustainability, while Macau's economy is not diversified enough, and areas outside the four main cities have not yet fully opened.
Hong Kong's role in the Bay Area is to provide funding for tech firms, allow them to raise money by going public here, and channel venture capital to start-ups.
By 2035, it foresees that the Bay Area will become much stronger in terms of economic power, technology development and competitiveness - and its people will be more affluent - and the area will be good for living, doing business and travel.
On the tech front, the area would have become the hub of a new generation of information technology, biotech, 3D printing, artificial intelligence, DNA testing and navigation application.
To boost connectivity in the Bay Area, more railroads and metro networks, as well as highways, will be built to connect the east and west end of the area. The scrapping of roaming charges will also be taken into consideration.
The paper also outlined ways to make it easier for Hong Kong and Macau people to study, live and work in the Bay Area. These include the possibility of allowing young people studying in one of the nine Guangdong cities to enjoy the same social benefits as their mainland counterparts and the creation of boarding schools for children in Guangdong.
Mainland authorities will also look at allowing Hong Kong and Macau teachers to teach across the border... and Hong Kong people to join the mainland's civil service. They will also explore the possibility of giving equal treatment in education, healthcare, retirement and housing to Hong Kong people who live and work in Guangdong.
For retirees who live on welfare, the plan will make it easier for them to live across the border.
For the plan to be implemented, a leadership group will be set up and all local authorities will be requested to follow it through. The governments in Hong Kong, Macau and Guangdong will boost communication and co-operation, and they may set up a joint development fund to help build the Bay Area.
Last updated: 2019-2-18 HKT 22:12