By Wang Lingxi

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) is one of the most open and economically vibrant regions in China. Covering an area of 56,000 square kilometers, it is home to more than 80 million people. Its GDP exceeded 13 trillion yuan ($1.82 trillion) in 2022.

On Dec. 21, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) issued a plan for the Guangdong-Macao in-depth cooperation zone in Hengqin, Zhuhai and another plan for the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone in Shenzhen. These two documents are expected to accelerate the development and opening up of major cooperation platforms in the GBA.

As the GBA sees a better foundation of transportation and logistics, its steps of high-quality development have become more solid, which unleashes tremendous vitality for development.

This October, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge marked its 5th anniversary. As a “golden channel” enhancing the GBA’s connectivity, the bridge has facilitated trips of 36 million cross-border passengers and 7.5 million vehicles over the past 5 years. The total import and export volume through the Zhuhai land port of the bridge amounted to 718.75 billion yuan.

Infrastructure projects such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, Nansha Bridge and Guangzhou-Shanwei high-speed railway, have further strengthened the connectivity in the GBA.

Besides, thanks to a new policy that took effect on Dec. 12, travelers arriving at Zhuhai Jinwan Airport on the Chinese mainland are allowed to reach the Hong Kong International Airport via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge to fly to overseas destinations without going through immigration in Hong Kong. The convenient and developed transport network is an accelerator for the integrated development of the GBA.

While improving hard connectivity on transportation, the GBA is also improving rules and mechanisms. In April this year, a total of 110 “GBA Standards” were announced in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, covering 25 fields including food, Cantonese cuisine, traditional Chinese medicine, transportation, elderly care, and logistics.

Under the joint efforts of Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao, residents from Hong Kong and Macao have been enjoying increasingly high-quality and convenient public services in the GBA mainland cities since this year.

For instance, the Guangdong-Macao social security one-stop service counters have enabled Macao residents to handle Macao social security matters in Hengqin.

Guangdong and Hong Kong have set up cross-boundary public service counters to strengthen the convenience for businesses and individuals in handling relevant matters. So far, the first batch of more than 50 services has been made available.

“These measures have allowed residents and businesses in Guangdong and Hong Kong to bid farewell to the hassle of running back and forth for government services, and we have all benefited from it,” said Chen Chi Ming from Hong Kong who currently works in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province. These convenient services, which are accessible to the people, have made the GBA better connected, Chen added.

Thanks to the “soft connectivity,” the investment and development of Hong Kong and Macao enterprises in mainland cities of the GBA have been further facilitated.

The sound business and living environment are attracting more and more people to study, work, live, and start their businesses in the GBA, which effectively promotes the high-quality development of the area.

Huang King Hei from Macao works at a law firm headquartered in Hengqin. He calls himself the “new-gen youth of Hengqin and Macao.”

Huang was born into a family of lawyers. He has passed the lawyer qualification examination of the GBA, obtained a lawyer’s license in the Chinese mainland, and become one of the first qualified arbitrators from Macao in the Guangdong-Macao in-depth cooperation zone.

“Among the some 50 lawyers in my law firm, more than 10 are from Macao,” said Huang. According to him, it takes only a half-hour drive for him to go home from his office, and this has greatly facilitated Macao lawyers to work in Hengqin.

According to statistics, more than 3,200 professionals from Hong Kong and Macao are currently working in the GBA mainland cities in various sectors such as law, healthcare, and urban planning, and over 3,500 individuals have obtained skills certificates that are recognized by all GBA cities.

Guangdong province has established 237 counters to meet the social security needs of individuals and businesses from Hong Kong and Macao. The number of Hong Kong and Macao residents participating in social insurance in the province has reached 346,700. Efforts have also been made to ensure that Hong Kong and Macao residents enjoy equal treatment in terms of employment and entrepreneurship in Guangdong.

From the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Youth Innovation and Entrepreneur Hub to the Guangdong, Hong Kong & Macao (International) Youth Entrepreneur Hub, and from the Hengqin-Macao Youth Entrepreneurship Valley to the Foshan-Hong Kong-Macao Youth Entrepreneurship Center, a number of innovation and entrepreneurship bases are nurturing the dreams of countless young entrepreneurs in the GBA.

According to statistics, the Hong Kong-Macao youth innovation and entrepreneurship bases in the Pearl River Delta have incubated around 4,000 projects from Hong Kong and Macao, providing employment opportunities for approximately 5,500 young people from the two regions. The GBA has become a fertile ground of innovation and entrepreneurship for young people from Hong Kong and Macao.

Nowadays, an increasing number of young people from Hong Kong and Macao have come to realize the tremendous potential for development in the GBA. They believe this region can bring them better prospects for their careers. According to a survey conducted by the Hong Kong United Youth Association this year, 65.5 percent of respondents agreed that the GBA created opportunities for their career development, and 71.3 percent were willing to work or pursue their careers in the Chinese mainland.

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