30 Hong Kong delegates to country’s top legislature to visit cities in ‘Greater Bay Area’ before official unveiling of national plans
Former constitutional affairs chief Raymond Tam confirms trip, saying an announcement will come ‘very soon’
About 30 Hong Kong delegates to China’s top legislature will visit mainland cities in the “Greater Bay Area” next month ahead of a long-awaited announcement of national-level plans for the scheme to create an integrated economic hub.
The visit was confirmed by Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, Hong Kong’s former secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs. Tam was speaking on the sidelines of a conference held by local think tank One Country Two Systems Youth Forum.
“Some 30 Hong Kong deputies to the National People’s Congress will visit four to five mainland cities in the bay area in June,” said Tam, who was among 36 delegates elected to the national legislature last December.
“We will visit some facilities for technology and innovation, as well as some infrastructural projects, including the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge,” Tam said.
The bay area plan – a national scheme to link nine cities in Guangdong province, including Hong Kong and Macau, into an integrated economic and business hub – stretches over 56,000 square kilometres, covers 11 economies worth US$1.58 trillion, and has an estimated population of 67 million.
As one of the major infrastructures for the area, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, will become the first express link connecting Hong Kong with the west bank of the Pearl River Delta through Zhuhai, another city under the bay area scheme.
Plagued by budget overruns, fatal industrial accidents that have claimed at least nine workers’ lives and concerns over the safety of an artificial island, the mega bridge has cost Hong Kong about HK$10.7 billion (US$1.38 billion) and is set to cost another HK$110 billion for roads connecting the structure to the city.
Tam said the trip was an annual routine organised for the Hong Kong deputies by the secretariat of the National People’s Congress.
He did not confirm if the long-awaited national plan for developing the bay area would be officially announced in light of the visit.
“The plan will come very soon,” Tam said.
Last Sunday, Chinese vice-premier Han Zheng, a top state leader in charge of Hong Kong and Macau affairs, paid a three-day visit to the bay area in a move widely seen as the central government showing determination to push ahead with an announcement.
Exactly one month before Han’s visit, a group of 32 Hong Kong lawmakers also visited the bay area for three days along with senior government officials.
Tam, 54, joined the New Frontier Group, a multinational business consultancy after he left the government last July, and now serves as the chairman of New Frontier Education and vice-chairman of New Frontier Health.
The New Frontier Group is co-founded by former finance secretary and Tam’s ex-boss Antony Leung Kam-chung. It is also controlled by the Nan Fung Group, a regional conglomerate engaging in real estate and investment businesses chaired by Leung.