Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area

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Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (green), with the Pearl River Delta Economic Zone indicated by the red line, excluding parts of Zhaoqing and Huizhou.

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GD-HK-MO, simplified Chinese: 粤港澳大湾区; traditional Chinese: 粵港澳大灣區; pinyin: Yuègǎng àodà wānqū) also referred as Greater Bay Area (GBA), is a megalopolis, consisting of nine cities and two special administrative regions in South China. On 7 December 2016, the concept for the area was mentioned in the English version of China's 13th Five-Year Plan.[1] On 13 April 2017, the heading of a piece of news released at the English.gov.cn website of the State Council adopted the name "Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area".[2] Just over two months later, on 1 July 2017, the "Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong - Hong Kong - Macau Cooperation in the Development of the Bay Area" (深化粵港澳合作 推進大灣區建設框架協議) was signed in Hong Kong.[3]

GBA is the largest and most populated urban area and is among the 5th largest bay areas in the world, comparable with the bay areas of London, New York, San Francisco, and Tokyo.[4]

GBA – with a total population of approximately 71.2 million people (5% of China's total population) – includes nine mega cities of Guangdong province: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Huizhou, and Zhaoqing as well as two special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau. Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen are also among of the world's 50 “superstar cities”.[5] Surrounding the Pearl River Delta with a total area of 56,000 km2 (corresponds to the area of Croatia), it is the largest and the richest economic region in South China.

GBA's combined regional GDP is USD 1,641.97 billion in 2018, which is equivalent to 12 percent of GDP for the whole of mainland China and would rank GBA as 12th biggest economy in the world.[6] As one of China's most vibrant and important regions, GBA has the highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the country and houses a majority of China's most innovative technology companies, such as Huawei, ZTE, DJI, and Tencent (mother company of WeChat). GBA has a rich ecosystem of startups, incubators, and accelerators in the fields of agile tech, biotech, medical tech, and innovation. For these reasons, many experts consider the region an emerging Silicon Valley of Asia.[7]

Given traditional divisions between the provincial and municipal governments and business elites, there are some opinions that the ambitious idea behind GBA might be difficult to implement.[8]

Geography and population centers[edit]

The GBA is located in the southern coastal area of China (21◦320–24◦260N, 111◦200–115◦240E). Located in the very south part of China, the climate of Greater Bay Area ranges from humid subtropical to tropical climate in the far south. There a few mountain ranges collectively called the Nan Mountains (Nan Ling) as well as a few inactive volcanoes on Leizhou Peninsula.

Guangdong province's simultaneously estuarine and mountainous geography, with its vast numbers of islands, bays, and peninsulas, has contributed to an exceptionally long coastline (4114 km). The Pearl River Delta that is the convergent point of three upstream rivers: the East River, North River, and West River is filled with hundreds of small islands. Many of the cities within the Greater Bay Area are archipelagic in nature, with Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Hong Kong SAR, and Macao SAR each furthermore possessing constituent and distinctly islanded territorial niches that are focused on industrial areas.

The entire area has warm and pleasant spring (March to May), hot and wet summer (June to August), clear and cool autumn (September to November) and also warm and not dry winter (December to February). The annual average temperature of Guangdong Province is around 22.3℃, with the average temperature of 16-19℃ in January and 28-29℃ in July. However, the highest temperature in summer goes more than 35℃ and the lowest can be lower than 10℃. Temperatures in Hong Kong and Macau are nearly the same, with the annual average temperature around 23℃, a little higher due to their location more to the south and closer to the equator. GBA receives abundant amount of precipitation throughout the year.

GBA has a total population of approximately 71.2 million people (5% of China's total population). The population is expected to reach 100 million people by 2030.

Cities Urban
area pop.[9]
District
area pop.[9]
Administrative
area pop.[9]
Census date
Guangzhou 10,641,408 14,904,400 14,904,400 2020-11-01
Shenzhen 12,356,820 12,356,820 12,356,820 2020-11-01
Dongguan 8,396,820 8,396,820 8,396,820 2019-11-01
Hong Kong 7,515,489 7,515,489 7,515,489 2020-06-30
Foshan 7,348,581 7,348,581 7,348,581 2014-11-01
Zhongshan 2,913,974 3,121,275 3,121,275 2020-11-01
Huizhou 1,807,858 2,344,634 4,598,402 2010-11-01
Jiangmen 1,480,023 1,822,614 4,450,703 2010-11-01
Zhuhai 1,369,538 1,759,000 1,759,000 2020-11-01
Zhaoqing 784,642 1,397,152 3,916,467 2010-11-01
Macau 652,032 652,032 652,032 2020-08-12[10]
Total 50,850,140 56,350,214 63,751,386

Smart urbanization and role of Special Economic and Technological Development Districts[edit]

China's rapid economic rise over the past three decades was triggered by the introduction of the ‘Open Door policy’ in 1978. One of the pillars of Chinese economic reform was creation of Special Economic Zones. By allowing and encouraging foreign direct investments these zones became engines of further economic, social, urban, and political development in China.

There are currently 49 development zones in China. Among them Guangzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone, Foshan National High-Tech Industrial Development Zone and Zhaoqing High-Tech Industrial Development Zone.

Subsequently, GBA went through the unprecedented urban growth over the past 32 years. The total urban areas have expanded from 652.74 km2 in 1986 to 8137.09 km2 in 2017 (approximately 13 times) and an 8.28% average annual growth rate.[11] Main driving factors of the urban expansions in the GBA were rapidly increasing GDP, income, and population.

Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, and Dongguan recorded the greatest urbanization changes, while Hong Kong and Macau had respectively lower magnitudes of change (118.53 and 6.98 km2, respectively).[12]

Due to its industrial strength, advanced infrastructure, and vast human resources GBA is an ideal place for the development and implementation of smart city solutions. Thanks to the highly connected and innovation-driven entrepreneurial landscape of I&T trailblazers like Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area consistently develops artificial intelligence, robotics, biomedical and healthcare technology, energy distribution systems and data connectivity sectors. These sectors are playing a key role in smart and sustainable urban development solutions.

Main challenges faced by GBA while advancing urban solutions is growing environmental and air pollution, improvements in cross-border mobility of people and goods, as well as capital flow, information, and data.[13]

The Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area gave important impulse to rapid advancement of urbanization in the Greater Bay Area. It foresees establishing data ports, information networks, electronic payment, and telecommunication systems, and developing “smart transport, smart energy, smart municipal management and smart communities”.[14]

Economy[edit]

GBA accounts for 37% of the China's exports.[15] GBA is represented by megacities, large airports and railway stations connected by a modern transportation system. GBA hosts 3 of the world's top 10 container ports with the air freight traffic bigger than of San Francisco, New York and Tokyo combined and 5 international airports (Hong Kong International Airport, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport, Macau International Airport and Zhuhai Jinwan Airport).[16]

The core idea behind the development of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) is laid out in ‘Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area’ released by the central Chinese government in February 2019.[14] The ambitious goal foresees a linkage of the nine cities in Guangdong province's Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong and Macau into an integrated economy and world-class business hub. The document-stipulated crucial milestones for GBA is a formation of the Framework for an international first-class bay area in 2022 and an evolution of the region into an international first-class bay area by 2035. The progress will be achieved through deepening reform, prioritizing innovation, accelerating connectivity, and improving the environmental footprint in the region.[14]

The Outline Development Plan foresees implementation of several infrastructural projects such as developing a world-class airport cluster in the region, as well as building inter-city high speed rail links and motorways to improve connectivity both within the GBA and beyond. A planned construction of two bridges across the Pearl River Delta will significantly reduce travelling times within the region and simultaneously promote a free flow of people, goods, capital, and information in the region. Given the rising concerns about the environmental impact of rapid urbanization and infrastructure development, the Outline Development Plan includes ecological conservation as well as green and low-carbon development models. The end goal stipulated by the document is to transform GBA to a services-oriented economy.[14]

GBA's combined regional GDP was USD 1,641.97 billion in 2018, which is equivalent to 12 percent of GDP for the whole of mainland China and would rank GBA as 12th biggest economy in the world (almost equal to South Korea's and more than Australia's). GDP growth of GBA is 4.4% and GDP is expected to reach USD 4 trillion by 2030, which would be greater than Germany's today.[17] The region has a diverse economic outlook with massive high-tech industrial development zones in all 11 cities covering emerging industries (IoT, AI, hydrogen, new mobility, clean tech), R&D and high-end sectors.[18]

Another rapidly growing economic area in the GBA is healthcare.[19] The Guangzhou International Bio Island located in Huangpu district, Guangzhou is a leading global biotech industrial zone in the region.

Outline Development Plan also envisages gradual financial liberalization.[20] In May 2020, People's Bank of China has introduced new measures aimed at liberalizing China's controls on foreign exchange and foreign currency remittance.

Industrial traditions in GBA[edit]

GBA is the world's core platform for prototyping and fast engineering, with both cost and timelines for prototyping being the lowest in the world. GBA's industrial traditions has been long anchored in Guangzhou and modernized in Shenzhen.[21] As an example, 85 percent of all phones worldwide are assembled in GBA, as are 50 percent of servers.[22]

Thanks to the years-long manufacturing traditions in the region, the Outline Development Plan sets the goals of creating clusters for advanced equipment manufacturing in Zhuhai and Foshan, and high-end manufacturing industries in Shenzhen and Dongguan.[23]

Education and research[edit]

GBA is home to numerous world-class universities with the leading hospitals and academic centers. Among them the “University Town” located on the Xiaoguwei Island in Guangzhou. It is considered as one of the “ten cores” of the Science and Technology Innovation Corridor (STIC) - blueprint for “China's Silicon Valley”. The most prominent among 12 universities of the “University Town” is Sun Yat-sen University which ranks 38th in Asia and among 251-300th globally by Time Higher Education magazine.[24]

In overall, GBA has over 200 universities, producing many college and advanced degrees graduates — over 570,000 college students a year graduates only in Guangzhou.[25]

Numerous highly rated medical schools, including the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, a leading hospital with over 3,000 beds operate in the region. Several world leaders in translational medicine are based in GBA, such as the lung cancer authority Professor Yi-Long Wu (vice-president of the Guangdong General Hospital and Guangdong Academy of Medical Sciences, and a director of Guangdong Lung Cancer Institute).[26]

Infrastructure and transportation[edit]

GBA is rapidly evolving into the dynamic world-class city cluster connected with the modern transportation network featuring Huangpu Bridge, Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong High-speed Railway, Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZM Bridge), Nansha Bridge and Guangzhou-Shenzhen Intercity Railway.

There are also massive ongoing infrastructure projects underway. Among them - construction of Guangzhou-Zhanjiang High-speed Railway, Gangzhou-Shenzhen Highspeed Railway and Guangzhou-Shanwei-Shantou High-speed Railway.

Further step in GBA's infrastructure development is establishment of airport clusters. Five main airports -- Hong Kong International Airport, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport, Macau International Airport and Zhuhai Jinwan Airport—as well as a group of feeder airports, will constitute a cluster that will be developed in two phases.[27]

Phase one, due for completion in 2025, will establish a Greater Bay Area airport conglomerate, with greater interaction between the facilities. Phase 2 aims to lift all the airports to a world-class level by 2035 with "safe, green, smart, human and synergetic qualities".[27]

Bridges[edit]

Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area Rail Transit Network

Rail[edit]

Urban rail transit (including metros, commuter and regional railways) is expanding very fast. Hong Kong MTR was the first, and its model has subsequently been applied to other networks in the region. The total length of all cities' metro lines is now 924.8 km (574.6 mi).

Metro[edit]

Regional and commuter railway[edit]

Light rail and tram[edit]

Intercity railway[edit]

Air[edit]

Culture[edit]

Being part of the Silk Road as well as Chinese international marine gates and trade hotspot for the last two thousand years, GBA features rich palette of cultural and folk traditions, languages, and food. Among them, a distinct European ambience - the Cantonese culture with its center in Guangzhou (also known as Canton and formerly romanized as Kwangchow), Macau, eastern Guangxi, and Hong Kong. The distinct feature of Cantonese culture is the Cantonese language and world-renowned Cantonese cuisine. Cantonese language is the official spoken language in the semi-autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau. In Guangdong and Guangxi, Mandarin Chinese is the official language taught in schools, but Cantonese is most frequently used in everyday life.[28]

History[edit]

People of South China navigate rivers and coastal waters since ancient times. From the time of Nanyue Kingdom (204-112 BCE) Chinese is believed to have manufactured large wooden ships (Szto, 2006) and were engaged in an active import/export operations with major export items such as lacquerware, silk, pottery, and bronze. That subsequently lead to a significant cultural exchange.

Region's dense network of rivers, which linked inland plains with the sea and encouraged the mobility of people, products, and ideas triggered South China's openness to adopting and adapting foreign material and social practices (Szto, 2006, Baoxia Xie, Xianlong Zhu, & Adam Grydehøj 6 p. 58; Xiong, 2014, pp. 1231-1232). Thanks to this geographical advantage and despite enormous cultural, economic, and political changes, cities of GBA preserved their importance as international centers of trade and cultural exchange. For instance, port of Guangzhou has retained its status as a major port for over two thousand years.

The geographical term “Pearl River Delta” was coined in 1947 and reflected region's rich and diverse local histories.[29]

Within the discourse on regional planning and mega-city positioning, the PRD's spatial structure has been contoured and realigned according to changing administrative boundaries, economic productivity, and infrastructural connectivity. In the early 2000s, Chinese scholars began using the term “Greater Pearl River Delta” (GPRD) that describe the 9 + 2 city agglomeration that encompassed post-handover Hong Kong and Macao. The GPRD was conceptualized as a series of lesser cities as industrial nodes with specialist functions clustering around two prominent cores - Guangzhou, the provincial capital, and Shenzhen. In 2003, Guangdong province advocated the idea of “Pan-PRD” as an even more extensive regional construct that comprised nine neighboring provinces to promote economic co-operation.[30]

The first special economic zones (SEZs) established back in 1979, starting with Shenzhen next to Hong Kong and Zhuhai adjacent Macao, were pioneering experiments devised to exploit capability of differences of each city. As accelerators of economic growth, these zones have been characterized with skilled labor and abundance of resources.[31] Another economic engine in the GBA is provincial capital of Guangdong provinceGuangzhou. Thanks to a rich industrial and high tech economic environment the city was able to attract first US investments such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Pepsi in 1990s and to date is he most concentrated area of U.S.-financed enterprises that have invested in southern China.[32]

GBA gained a new momentum in 2017, when the National Development and Reform Commission and the governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao signed the Framework Agreement on Deepening Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Cooperation in the Development of the Greater Bay Area in Hong Kong.[33] The Framework Agreement sets out the goals and principles of cooperation and establishes the key cooperation areas in the development of the Greater Bay Area .

Another milestone in the development of GBA was reached on 18 February 2019 by adoption of the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The ambitious goal foresees a linkage of the nine cities in Guangdong province's Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong and Macau into an integrated economy and world-class business hub.[34] The document-stipulated crucial milestones for GBA is a formation of the Framework for an international first-class bay area in 2022 and an evolution of the region into an international first-class bay area by 2035. The progress will be achieved through deepening reform, prioritizing innovation, accelerating connectivity, and improving the environmental footprint in the region.

In addition, GBA is expected to play a key role in Belt and Road Initiative by connecting Southern China with the countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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