With about 11 participating members, it is no wonder that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said last month that PPRD co-operation was a long-term project that would require 'confidence, courage, patience and efforts'. 'Efforts' may be an understatement, given the vastness and disparity of the area covered by Hong Kong and Macau, and the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan and Hainan. If successful the initiative would economically integrate more than one-third of China's 1.3 billion-strong population. Amongst the many factors working against its success - at least in the short term - is the huge disparities in development facing the region. Hong Kong's annual per-capita GDP, at about US$24,000, is almost 50 times greater than the poor, southwestern province of Guizhou, which has one of the nation's lowest overall provincial GDPs. Founded in 2003 as a counter to the growing economic clout of Shanghai's Yangtze River Delta, the PPRD is, for now, probably better described as a 'challenge' rather than as a functioning example of regional co-operation.