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Greater Bay Area - boon or bane for Hong Kong's future?

Employees of a company producing robots in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, which will play to its strength as the Silicon Valley of the East.
The Pearl River in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China. Under the plan unveiled last month, Hong Kong and Macau will be linked closely by physical and digital infrastructure to nine cities in the province, to pave the way to create a single market by 2035. PHOTO: REUTERS
Employees of a company producing robots in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, which will play to its strength as the Silicon Valley of the East.
Employees of a company producing robots in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, which will play to its strength as the Silicon Valley of the East. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
The Galaxy Macau casino and hotel in Macau.
The Galaxy Macau casino and hotel in Macau. Under China's ambitious new initiative, Macau will widen its reach as the ''world centre for tourism and leisure''. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said participation in the bay area will not weaken Hong Kong's independent tariff status. The Pearl River in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China. Under the plan unveiled last month, Hong Kong and Macau will be linked clos
A public pier next to Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong (above), and a general view of Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province. A Fitch Solutions report last month stated that, under the Greater Bay Area initiative, the higher level of automation and lower terminal handling costs at Chinese ports such as Shanghai and Shenzhen would erode Hong Kong's position as a key re-export centre. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said participation in the bay area will not weaken Hong Kong's independent tariff status. The Pearl River in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China. Under the plan unveiled last month, Hong Kong and Macau will be linked clos
A public pier next to Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong, and a general view of Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province (above). A Fitch Solutions report last month stated that, under the Greater Bay Area initiative, the higher level of automation and lower terminal handling costs at Chinese ports such as Shanghai and Shenzhen would erode Hong Kong's position as a key re-export centre. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said participation in the bay area will not weaken Hong Kong's independent tariff status.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said participation in the bay area will not weaken Hong Kong's independent tariff status. PHOTO: LIANHE 70 ZAOBAO

Critics see Beijing's initiative as a way of integrating the city with the mainland; others say 'one country, two systems' rule will stay

HONG KONG • It seems like a no-brainer for the Hong Kong government to place its bets on Beijing's ambitious plan to turn cities in southern China into a world-class cluster of economic activity and innovation as the city moves to diversify its economy - one that is open and easily susceptible to external headwinds.

Despite protests from critics who dismiss the Greater Bay Area plan as a way to turn Hong Kong into just another Chinese city through integration with the mainland, the territory's gamble on the initiative, led by Chinese President Xi Jinping, may eventually pay off not just economically but also politically when it takes off, some observers believe.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2019, with the headline 'Greater Bay Area - boon or bane for HK's future?'. Print Edition | Subscribe