Hong Kong, dubbed as the Dragon Head plays second fiddle to Shanghai

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Now that it no longer plays a leading role in regional development, people are wondering what’s next for Hong Kong. The answer lies in Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau all to take advantages of their unique strengths as they find their places in the enormous “Greater Bay Area” plan.

Once upon a time, Hong Kong was looked to as a “dragon head”, playing a significant leadership role in the region. It seems that those days are long gone. The “Greater Bay Area” project plans to arrange for the development of Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau all together.

At the Boao Forum last week, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, pondered on how overlapping development can be avoided, specifically zeroing in on coordinating division of tasks between the different ports in Guangdong and Hong Kong.

Ms. Lam’s question carries much significance, and points at questions concerning Hong Kong’s future. While Hong Kong is historically and regionally a hub for logistics, ports in Shanghai and Shenzhen have already surpassed it when it comes to cargo throughput volume.

The governor of Guangdong, Ma Xingrui, diplomatically answered that because Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” governance policy makes things considerably different from mainland issues, problems such as the one raised by Ms. Lam need to be addressed one by one  as opposed to providing just one solution. 

In other words, Hong Kong’s term as a regional dragon head is truly done, as there can be no single leader in an area where more than 60 million citizens live, and is as big as the Bay Area of San Francisco.

Therefore, a careful consideration of each of the areas is more needed, and would make for good coordination for the development of the area.

The question remains to how Hong Kong can play to its strengths.

One answer was provided by Ms. Lam.  She suggested that Hong Kong’s techies can cross the border in order to help makes the Greater Bay Area the high-tech hub of China. 

In the meantime, another possible partner, or potential rival, to Hong Kong is emerging. President Xi Jinping has just announced that Hainan is set to become the largest free trade port in China. Grand plans for Hainan include for it to develop into China’s center for “ecological civilisation,” a prime tourist destination, as well as a strategic base. Hainan’s spot on the South China Sea, as well as its wealth of resources, can make this possible.

Just last weekend Hong Kong welcomed a new official from the mainland to oversee its affairs. Han Zheng, a powerfully ranked member of of China’s  standing committee of the Politburo succeeded retiree Zhang Dejiang.

The appointment of Mr. Han is sure to have an impact on Hong Kong’s economic affairs. He ruled the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, and as former Shanghai party chief, coordinated the economy of the whole region.