No vicious competition between Hong Kong and other cities in bay area plan, constitutional minister promises

Raymond Tam says state planning agency will also ensure Hong Kong’s domestic planning will not be replaced

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 10:52pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 April, 2017, 10:52pm

The chief of Hong Kong’s mainland affairs bureau has promised that the state planning agency will ensure the city and its neighbouring mainland counterparts will not be locked in vicious competition during the development of the “Greater Bay Area”.

But Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, who also said Hong Kong’s domestic planning would not be overridden, stopped short of pledging to consult the public for the blueprint, only saying that stakeholders such as professionals, businesses and lawmakers had been engaged.

Briefing the media before joining a high-powered delegation to visit Guangdong next week, the secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs said the scheme, first proposed by Shenzhen, had grown to become a national strategic project after Premier Li Keqiang included it in his annual work report last month.

Tam said the idea was to promote “complementarity” among Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong province.

Beijing’s bay area plan would help Hong Kong prepare for competition among city clusters, minister says

“Every city wants to develop container terminals and finance, but the National Development and Reform Commission has said vicious competition should be erased and avoided,” he said.

Domestic city planning would also not be replaced and regional planning would observe the “one country, two systems” principle, he added.

Hong Kong would keep its leading financial centre status, he said, but it should no longer be competing in the container terminal business. It should develop maritime services such as insurance and legal services to serve the ports in the region.

Tam also said airspace management was an area the governments needed to sort out.

The proposed “Greater Bay Area” project covers an area of 56,000 sq km and a population numbering 66.7 million.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will lead the three-day tour next week. More than 30 government officials and advisers from the Executive Council, Commission on Strategic Development and the Economic Development Commission will join him.

Hong Kong chief executive to lead ‘Greater Bay Area’ integration study tour

The government will submit by June its proposal to the National Development and Reform Commission, which will complete the blueprint for the State Council’s approval at the end of the year.

They will focus on six cities in the western part of Guangdong, which Tam said were fast catching up in infrastructure growth.

Dr Hung Wing-tat, a former government adviser on Pearl River Delta development, said the Hong Kong government should take more initiative in the project.

“The issue is the government should be more proactive rather than wait to be [given] a blueprint. It should hold discussions among the public and let them give ideas for the planning,” Hung said.