Published: 21:32, June 30, 2023 | Updated: 21:57, June 30, 2023
CE pushes GBA development with 'innovative policies'
By Oasis Hu & Li Bingcun

Hong Kong's Chief Executive John Lee Ka-Chiu speaks to media outlets in an interview at the Chief Executive's Office in Central, Hong Kong, on June 30, 2023, a day before the 26th anniversary of the city's return to the motherland. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

The Hong Kong Special Administration Region government is looking to implement “innovative policies” to give full play to the city’s complementary strengths in advancing the quality development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said in a media interview on Friday.

Such policies will be rolled out to promote the flow of people, funds and capital in the Lok Ma Chau Loop, a jointly-developed inno-tech highland by Hong Kong and the nation’s tech powerhouse Shenzhen.

Lee hopes that this arrangement will be extended to all boundary control points in the future and looks forward to more, similarly creative, initiatives

During the interview, Lee said that harnessing complementary strengths to promote quality development in the GBA was one of the key inspirations behind his several visits to the region over the past few months.

READ MORE: CE: Boost HK-Macao ties for high-quality GBA development

In late February, Lee visited Guangdong province, marking his first visit to the Bay Area since taking office. In April, Lee visited the GBA again, accompanied by members of the Legislative Council.

To achieve quality development, the government needs to come up with innovative approaches, Lee said.

For instance, in terms of science and innovation, Lee said that Hong Kong’s strengths lie in talent, research and development, and capital; its weakness is its lack of land resources. However, the GBA mainland cities have abundant land resources and a strong ability to industrialize and scale up R&D results.

To maximize the advantages and minimize the disadvantages of both places, Lee said that the Hong Kong SAR government would propose a constellation of new policies to help minimize barriers to the flow of talent, data, funding, and research between the two places, without violating the laws of either place, and these policies could be applied to the Lok Ma Chau Loop, an area bordering Shenzhen.

To achieve the highest level of quality development in the GBA, the government needs to formulate some exemplary practices and dedicated templates for dealing with special situations, Lee said, citing the co-location arrangement as a typical example of such innovative approaches.

Since its introduction at West Kowloon Station in 2018, the co-location arrangement has significantly shortened the time required to cross the border, improved efficiency, and facilitated the lives of residents. This innovative approach has received strong support from the public, Lee said.

Lee hopes that this arrangement will be extended to all boundary control points in the future and looks forward to more, similarly creative, initiatives.

Hong Kong and other cities in the GBA also need to collaborate in a variety areas such as green finance, eco-tourism, talent training, and the horse industry, to achieve high-quality development in the GBA, Lee said.

For instance, Hong Kong’s expertise in raising capital and issuing bonds in green finance can help GBA mainland cities achieve green transformation. Similarly, the cooperation between Hong Kong and mainland cities in eco-tourism can integrate travel resources, expand travel space, and boost the confidence of tourism industry stakeholders and consumers.

Hong Kong is a bellwether in terms of the equestrian industry and related products and it can also contribute significantly to the development of the GBA in this regard, Lee continued.

READ MORE: CE: Bay Area development will keep HK flair

In 2021, Hong Kong and Guangzhou signed a cooperation agreement to co-host international-level horse racing competitions, upgrade the facilities of the racecourses, and establish the equine industry chain. Moreover, this year’s Hangzhou Asian Games equestrian events will receive technical support from the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

In addition, the Hong Kong government and other cities in the GBA will continue to collaborate in the nurturing of young talents, such as by further extending internship programs for Hong Kong youth to other cities in the GBA and developing youth entrepreneurial bases in the region.

Lee also proposed expanding the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao GBA Development Promotion Centre to other cities in the Bay Area. The center, currently only available in Guangzhou, is an organization established by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangdong of the HKSAR to support Hong Kong residents in the mainland cities of the GBA and encourage mainland talent to come to Hong Kong.