The great delusion that is the Greater Bay Area project holds nothing for Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s interests do not lie in cooperating with Guangdong to do what Guangdong wants us to do
“I believe the Greater Bay Area will grow into the world’s largest bay area in terms of GDP within 10 years”.
Jonathan Choi Koon-sum,
Chinese General Chamber of Commerce,
SCMP, August 11
Put your hand over your heart and now repeat after me: “I believe the Greater Bay Area will grow into the world’s largest bay area in terms of GDP within 10 years”.
You can’t say it? But Jonathan Choi, the chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, could say it. Why can’t you? It’s simple. You just say it. Anyone can say it.
The trouble with the Golden Bauhinia Award, ... oops, ... sorry, ... wrong GBA, ... I mean Greater Bay Area, is that it is just another version of the same tired old idea that is resurrected every few years and then visited on us.
Thus PRD for Pearl River Delta morphed into the special zones of Qianhai, Nansha and Hengqin, and now that their backers are tired of empty buildings on empty mudflats, we are to put it all together again as the GBA. Ho-hum.
The occasion this time is the continuing demise of exports from the overall Shenzhen economic zone.
As the chart shows, it is now down to about US$240 billion a year from US$320 billion in early 2013, and this is a weaker performance than from the mainland overall.
The GBA solution to this problem is that everyone in southern Guangdong will get together on account of how they love each other so much and then this will be the new Silicon Valley (ho-hum) and Hong Kong will provide the money for it all because this what we have chosen Hong Kong to do. And what will Hong Kong get?
Ah, yes ... hmmm ... indeed ... so to speak ... yes.
The fact is that Hong Kong lives as a parasite on the mainland economy, doing for the rest of China what China cannot do for itself or, for reasons of policy, will not do.
This is the way it has always been and every time that China found that it could at last do what it could not do before, Hong Kong has had to change its ways and find some new mainland economic anomaly to exploit, going from opium to shipping to plastic flowers to textiles to trade services to banking.
Here is the secret of how it works in the GBA. Hong Kong’s interests do not lie in cooperating with Guangdong to do what Guangdong wants us to do.
That’s only Guangdong’s way. It can take what it wants from us and never give anything back. Qianhai is a poaching attempt at our financial services.
Fortunately, however, they still believe across the border that pouring concrete for office buildings is all you need to become a financial centre.
Our interests lie in having Guangdong authorities continue to delude themselves this way. Keep them in the dark about such essentials as rule of law, free flow of information, an open capital account, and congenial living circumstances and our edge over them only grows the greater.
I think our key bureaucrats know all this.
Their game is to praise GBA loud and long, promise full cooperation and then just sit back and watch their Guangdong counterparts bash their heads against that same brick wall again.
Biggest in the world in 10 years? Yup, sure thing.