Bridge will challenge Nansha port plans

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 August, 2003, 12:00am

Consultants re-examine development blueprint for Guangzhou island

Guangzhou's ambition to develop Nansha Island as a deep-water port will face a challenge if a bridge is built linking Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai. The plans for Nansha needed reassessing, its chief planner, Duan Xiangfeng, said yesterday.

Mr Duan said foreign consultants had been hired to study Nansha's role and the competition it would face in what he called the 'new economic environment' the bridge proposal had created.

The plan to build a container terminal and logistics centre and develop heavy industry on Nansha is at the heart of the development strategy for the Guangdong province capital, Guangzhou.

Since drawing up its plans for Nansha, the city government had spent 10 billion yuan (HK$9.37 billion) a year putting them into effect.

Guangzhou hopes Nansha's location in the middle of the Pearl River Delta will make it a natural transport and logistics centre. But a cross-delta bridge challenges such assumptions. Xiao Zhenyu, director of Guangzhou's Bureau of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation, said the bridge would bring 'challenges as well as opportunities'.

Mr Duan said the consultants would focus on the potential markets for Nansha's deep-water port, the types of goods it would handle and its relation to other container terminals in the region.

He said: 'Under a market economy, competition between cities is inevitable. Some people fear we might repeat the mistake of building excessive infrastructure, such as the five international airports [we now have] in one region.'

Mr Duan defended the port project, saying Guangzhou needed its own modern cargo terminal. 'The Nansha container terminal is just an extension of the Guangzhou port. We shouldn't think of the Nansha project as a separate, new port,' he said.

Mr Duan denied the Nansha terminal would threaten Hong Kong's position as the world's leading port.

An industry source said Nansha deep-water port might have to be scaled down from its initial plan.

'They [the developer] seldom mention the goal to turn it into a 'world-class shipping port' this time. After building of the bridge, Nansha has lost a big advantage as the meeting point between Hong Kong and western Guangdong,' he said. Guangzhou is staging a three-day investment forum this week in the hope of attracting foreign capital to help it develop Nansha.

The event had already secured investments totalling 5.5 billion yuan in nine projects on Nansha. But only 500 million yuan has come from foreign investors.

Mr Xiao, of the city trade bureau, said Guangzhou needed to learn from cities in the Yangtze River Delta how to attract foreign capital.

'We clearly see a gap between us and the Yangtze River Delta cities. Foreign investment in Suzhou, for instance, is double ours. Growth in foreign investment there is nearly three times ours,' he said.

He said Guangzhou also had to face competition from other Pearl River Delta cities and admitted co-operation had sometimes proved to be difficult.

'Each city fights for their best interests. Of course we have co-operation.

'But we are also facing pressure from competition,' he said.

Meanwhile, Guangzhou will hold a conference with Hong Kong in October to discuss co-operation in logistics field.