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China Daily Global / 2020-10 / 16 / Page003

Greater participation encouraged in Bay Area development

By ELEANOR HUANG in Hong Kong | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-10-16 00:00

The most significant message for Hong Kong residents in President Xi Jinping's speech marking the 40th anniversary of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone on Wednesday is to get involved in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the city's former legislative head said on Thursday.

Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, former president of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said in an interview that this is likely one of the biggest opportunities offered to residents, and Hong Kong should not let it slip away.

In Shenzhen, Xi encouraged Hong Kong and Macao compatriots to play pivotal roles in investment, entrepreneurship and opening-up, and to contribute to the development of the special economic zone.

Xi also called for bolstering the free flow of people and goods in the Bay Area while making full use of the area as a platform to attract more young people from Hong Kong and Macao to study, work and live there. He called it one of the nation's most important development plans.

Fan, who attended the ceremony, said she is also confident that the central government will continue to roll out measures that make it easier for city residents to live, study and work there, such as the preferential individual income-tax policy for talent from the two SARs who work in the Bay Area.

Fan compared the initiative to a "high-speed rail" toward greater prosperity. But Hong Kong youth will have to choose to get on board, she said.

Hong Kong's competitive advantage has rested on its open economy, low taxes and the free flow of capital, making it attractive to overseas talent, Fan said.

But as the financial hub works to pursue the development of a diversified economy, particularly in innovation and technology, local scientists often run into bottlenecks due to limited resources, she said, which can make it exceptionally difficult for them to turn their research into profitable products.

But looking beyond Hong Kong's border, to the Bay Area, there is a larger market, sufficient land for large-scale innovative production and short distances among the 11 cities. It is also a "perfect meeting place" for the nation's best talent to brainstorm and exchange ideas, Fan said.

Fan said it would be "logical" to look north for career potential, driven in part by a burgeoning market.

Young people also need to have a deeper understanding of the lifestyles and traditions of the residents of adjoining cities so that they are able to design products that fit the needs of the vast customer base in the Bay Area, Fan said.

Yet even with young people deciding to jump on the bandwagon to work in the Bay Area, Fan said it will not be "easy", adding that there will be obstacles, such as adjusting to a new living environment.

But those who overcome these will enjoy such advantages as cultivating independence and resourcefulness, and broadening their horizons, she added.

Fan was amazed by the economic "miracle" that Shenzhen has achieved in 40 years.

She said she believed no other city would be able to accomplish this in such a short time.

Fan congratulated Shenzhen and said she is certain the city will reach an even higher level with a package of pioneering policies adopted by the central authorities, including liberalized land use.

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