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Greater Bay plan welcomed with cheers, doubts

2019-02-19 HKT 16:56
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  • Greater Bay plan welcomed with cheers, doubts
Charles Mok
The Greater Bay Area development plan released by Beijing on Monday has evoked mixed response in Hong Kong, with some opposition lawmakers casting doubts on its impact while those in the business sector hailed it as a boost for the SAR.

Lawmakers from the Professional Guild have questioned whether the plan will benefit Hong Kong, saying the integrated development may restrict the SAR government's policy planning.

"We have been a free economy, one of the freest markets in the world for close to a hundred years. Is that going to change? These are the very difficult questions that we have to consider," said Charles Mok, who represents the IT sector in Legco.

"You can't replace a global market with simply the huge Greater Bay Area market," he said.

However, the Securities and Futures Commission said the plan could further boost Hong Kong's status as an international financial hub.

Its chairman, Tim Lui, said to implement relevant initiatives in the plan, his commission has been working closely with its mainland counterpart to strengthen regulations on cross-border transactions.

"For many years, we have been working very diligently and collaborate with the CSRC (China Securities Regulatory Commission) on a lot of regulatory issues, including cross-border issues," he said.

The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Norman Chan, said the authority has been working to make it easier for Hong Kong people to set up bank accounts in other cities in the Greater Bay Area.

"There are different processes in different cities in terms of the requirements, documentation ... so the first objective is to standardise the requirements so that Hong Kong residents in any part of the Greater Bay Area would meet with the same standard requirements," he said.

Meanwhile, an urban planning professor who has spent decades studying the Pearl River Delta says it’s important for the SAR to seize what may be the final opportunity to work with the region, as it is catching up fast.

Anthony Yeh from the University of Hong Kong warned that the SAR would risk becoming the "next Liverpool" if it doesn’t improve, referring to the port city in England which experienced massive economic decline after the 1970s.

He urged the government to make it easier for mainland scholars or businessmen in the area to visit Hong Kong to foster exchanges of ideas and business partnerships.