Chinese authorities on Feb. 18, 2019 unveiled the outline development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, aiming to develop the region into "a role model of high-quality development."
The plan was released by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council.
Promoting the development of the Greater Bay Area is a major decision made by the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, said an official in charge of the office of the leading group for developing the area.
"It is a national strategy General Secretary Xi Jinping has planned for, made decisions about and promoted in person," the official said.
The bay area consists of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the Macao Special Administrative Region (Macao SAR), as well as nine cities in Guangdong Province -- Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing.
Covering a total area of 56,000 square kilometers, the bay area had a combined population of about 70 million at the end of 2017 and its gross domestic product reached around 10 trillion yuan (1.48 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2017.
"As one of the most open and economically vibrant regions in China, the Greater Bay Area plays a significant strategic role in the overall development of the country," says the plan.
The development of the area is hailed not only as a new attempt to break new ground in pursuing opening up on all fronts in a new era, but also a further step in taking forward the practice of "one country, two systems."
The plan covers the period from now to 2022 in the immediate term and extends to 2035 in the long term.
The plan has 11 chapters: the background, the overall requirements, the spatial layout, developing an international innovation and technology hub, expediting infrastructural connectivity, building a globally competitive modern industrial system, taking forward ecological conservation, developing a quality living circle for living, working and traveling, strengthening cooperation and jointly participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, jointly developing Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao cooperation platforms, and the implementation of the plan.
World-class city cluster
The plan says the bay area will be turned into a vibrant world-class city cluster, a globally influential international innovation and technology hub, an important support pillar for the Belt and Road Initiative, a showcase for in-depth cooperation between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao, and a quality living circle for living, working and traveling.
Efforts should be made to build on the four core cities of Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou and Shenzhen as core engines for regional development, continue leveraging their comparative advantages in striving for excellence and achievements, and strengthen the radiating effect in leading the development of nearby regions.
Setting development objectives, the plan says by 2022 the framework should essentially be formed for an international first-class bay area and world-class city cluster that is vibrant and highly innovative with an optimized industrial structure, a smooth flow of various factors and a pleasant ecological environment.
By 2035, the bay area should have an economic system and a mode of development mainly supported by innovation, with its economic and technological strengths vastly increased and its international competitiveness and influence further strengthened, it adds.
By then, the markets within the Greater Bay Area should basically be highly connected, with a very effective and efficient flow of various resources and factors of production; the coordination of regional development should remarkably improve, with the influence on neighboring regions further strengthened.
The people should become wealthier; the level of social civility should reach new heights, with cultural soft power demonstrably strengthened, Chinese cultural influence broadened and deepened, and exchange and integration between different cultures further enhanced, the plan says.
Meanwhile, the levels of conservation and efficient use of resources should be significantly improved, the ecological environment should be effectively protected, and an international first-class bay area for living, working and traveling should be fully developed.