Published: 22:55, November 30, 2021 | Updated: 09:44, December 1, 2021
GBA: A springboard for greater chances
By Liu Guangyuan

Editor’s note: The following are the remarks of Liu Guangyuan, Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, at a Tuesday conference co-hosted by China Daily and the Hong Kong Coalition. 

In his speech at the opening ceremony of the fourth China International Import Expo, President Xi Jinping said that “opening-up is the hallmark of contemporary China”.

Indeed, over the past two years since the rollout of the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Greater Bay Area has made great headway in opening-up and cooperation. A superior environment for living, working and traveling is gradually taking shape. 

The achievements in the development of the Greater Bay Area so far have fully demonstrated China’s determination to open up wider to the world, displayed advantages of the “one country, two systems” policy, and drawn a new blueprint for sharing opportunities together with the international community.

The development of the Greater Bay Area is a new window for China’s high-level opening-up. China is fostering a new development paradigm featuring dual-circulation, with the internal circulation serving as the mainstay while the internal and external circulations reinforcing each other, and is committed to building a more market-oriented, law-based and world-class business environment. 

The Greater Bay Area, as one of the most open and dynamic regions in China, is an “innovation pilot zone” for China to build a new pattern of opening-up. With the steady progress in developing major cooperation platforms such as Qianhai, Hengqin and Nansha, and the introduction of more opening-up measures in trade, finance, science and technology, the Greater Bay Area has shown to the world that China will not change its resolve to open up wider at a high standard; China will not change its determination to share development opportunities with the rest of the world; and China will not change its commitment to an economic globalization process that is more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all.

The Greater Bay Area is a new benchmark in the successful practice of “one country, two systems”. In the development of the Greater Bay Area, one fundamental principle has been firmly followed — that is sticking to the very basis of “one country”, leveraging the advantages of “two systems” and acting in strict accordance with the nation’s Constitution and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 

For Hong Kong and Macao, “one country, two systems” is their biggest advantage, and the Greater Bay Area is their best stage. 

The central government attaches high importance to the long-term prosperity and stability of both Hong Kong and Macao as well as the well-being of the people, and has adopted a series of policies to support the two SARs and their cooperation with Guangdong province. The purpose is to harness the strengths of Hong Kong and Macao and respond to the needs of the country. 

When Hong Kong and Macao further integrate into the overall national development, they could unlock new growth potential and make new achievements, thus unleashing huge dividends of integrated development and contributing to lasting success of “one country, two systems”.

The Greater Bay Area is a new platform for win-win cooperation between China and the rest of the world. The Greater Bay Area will set up high-standard trade and investment rules, and forge new strengths in international cooperation and competition. Countries around the world are welcome to take part in the region’s development, deepen cooperation, and achieve win-win. 

At present, international trade in the Greater Bay Area has topped 14 trillion yuan ($2.20 trillion), and its foreign direct investment value has reached $103.7 billion. It is home to dozens of Fortune Global 500 headquarters, and a growing number of professionals both at home and from abroad are being attracted to this emerging global top-tier Bay Area and world-class city cluster. 

The Greater Bay Area has also been recognized as a fertile ground for foreign investment and business in China, a driver for win-win cooperation between China and other parts of the world, and a catalyst for balanced and sustainable growth in the global economy.

The theme of this conference, “Embracing New Opportunities: Connecting GBA with RCEP”, is highly relevant today. 

China practices true multilateralism, firmly upholds the multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core, takes the lead in ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and works for an open world economy.

Upon its full and effective implementation, the RCEP will become the world’s largest free trade zone, accounting for about 30 percent of the global population, economic output and total exports. This will mark significant progress in economic integration in East Asia, inject strong impetus into regional and global growth, and is of significant importance to today’s world which is bothered by profound changes and a pandemic — both unseen in a century. 

In the context of the RCEP, the Greater Bay Area faces both new opportunities and challenges. To better implement national opening-up measures, promote regional integration, and speed up global economic recovery, we need to focus on three key words.

The first is “development”. Development is the golden key to solving both global and regional economic and social problems. China stands ready to work with other countries to bring into full play the advantages of the Greater Bay Area, including its sound industrial system and favorable location, and enhance its facilitating role in China’s dual-circulation development strategy. 

We will deliver on our promise to the RCEP on market opening-up, promote high-quality development of trade and investment, and build a new pattern of integrated development as an open economy. These actions will make development more balanced, coordinated and inclusive, so that the fruits of development can benefit all people in this region and around the world in an equitable way.

The second is “connectivity”. The Greater Bay Area features “one country, two systems” and three customs zones. For the successful development of the Greater Bay Area, aligned rules, the smooth flow of production factors and close ties between people are key cornerstones. 

We will strengthen connectivity in the Greater Bay Area and establish high-standard rules compatible with the RCEP. Market access in the Greater Bay Area will be further eased by implementing a management system of pre-establishment national treatment plus a negative list. What’s more, we will promote “hard connectivity” of infrastructure and “soft connectivity” of rules and mechanisms, and accelerate an efficient flow of production factors. These efforts will help maintain a stable global supply chain, advance economic integration, and share benefits across the world.

The third is “innovation”. The Greater Bay Area’s development strategy is innovation-oriented. This region boasts a high concentration of factors of scientific and technological innovation as well as exceptional capabilities in research and development, and industrial application. The Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou science and technology cluster takes second place in a global ranking. 

China has announced the launch of the China-ASEAN Science, Technology and Innovation Enhancing Program. In the future, we will take the RCEP as a great opportunity to expand cooperation with relevant countries in digital economy and green economy, and jointly build demonstration zones for innovative economic development. These measures will enhance the role of the Greater Bay Area as a player, a contributor and a pioneer in the new round of global technological revolution and industrial innovation.

Hong Kong enjoys the strong backing of the motherland, and is a key hub in the Asia-Pacific and a crucial bond of the whole world. As the central city of the Greater Bay Area and the most international city in the region, Hong Kong enjoys remarkable advantages such as a robust financial market, free flow of capital, a sound legal environment and robust professional services. It has also signed free trade agreements with 13 RCEP economies. 

Thanks to the National Security Law for Hong Kong and its improved electoral system, Hong Kong has shifted from chaos to stability and prosperity, and has a big role to play in the Greater Bay Area and China’s new round of opening-up. 

The positioning of Hong Kong in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) as an international financial, shipping and trading center and the global offshore renminbi business hub will further strengthen Hong Kong’s role as a “super-connector”, and boost the development of Hong Kong and other cities in the Greater Bay Area.

Last week, our Commissioner’s Office, together with the HKSAR government and the Guangdong provincial government, jointly organized a virtual tour to the Greater Bay Area for foreign businesses operating in Hong Kong, which was warmly welcomed and widely received. 

After the event, foreign business leaders said that they are optimistic about the future of Hong Kong and other cities in the Greater Bay Area. They will stay in Hong Kong, seize the opportunities here, and contribute to the development of the Greater Bay Area while sharing the benefits of China’s high-level opening-up and pursuing faster and better development of their businesses.

Great visions can be realized only through concrete actions. Going forward, our office will continue to serve Hong Kong through diplomacy, firmly support Hong Kong in expanding foreign exchanges and cooperation, and give full play to its established advantages. We are determined to help the Hong Kong SAR further integrate into the Greater Bay Area and participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, so as to contribute our share to deepening the China-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership under the RCEP. 

With the joint efforts of all of us, we will certainly reach new heights in the Greater Bay Area development and China’s reform and opening-up, and open a new bright chapter for “one country, two systems”.

The author is Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.