With the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge in October, Zhuhai is now only a 45-minute drive from Hong Kong. The new bridge, coupled with the opening of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link in September, is a major step forward in realizing the concept of a “one-hour living circle” within the Greater Bay Area (GBA). This concept, which has been promoted for more than 10 years, significantly facilitates the flow of people and goods between Hong Kong and the rest of the region. It also indirectly facilitates the flow of capital, adding impetus to the integration and development of the GBA.
The Chamber’s China Committee Chairman Petrina Tam and Vice Chairman Chan Siu Hung led a 40-member delegation to Zhuhai, travelling by cross-border coach over the bridge, to experience first-hand its convenience and learn about the development of the cities in the western part of the GBA.
Zhuhai is one of the four Special Economic Zones in Mainland China that first implemented the country's opening up policy. Its transport infrastructure, and urban and economic development have grown significantly in recent years. The added stimulation of the bridge’s construction has also boosted the development of the aviation, tourism and logistics sectors, as well as industries associated with smart home appliances and healthcare.
During the Chamber’s two-day trip, the delegation visited three areas – Hengqin New Zone, Xiangzhou District and Jinwan District – and six corporations where they got an insight into the vibrancy of Zhuhai.
Hengqin is the biggest island of Zhuhai, with a total area of more than 100 square kilometers, and is only 200 meters from Macao. A light rail link is also planned to seamlessly connect these two cities in the future.
The completion of the bridge also means that there are now five international and domestic airports – in Hong Kong, Macao, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai – within a 100-kilometre radius of Hengqin.
Li Chuanhui, Deputy Secretary to the Party Committee of Hengqin New Zone, said that the various new transport links mean that Hengqin will become the rising transportation hub of Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao.
Li noted that in November 2018, Zhuhai Airport recorded annual passenger throughput of more than 10 million, officially entering the ranks of “10-million class” airports in the country. Chimelong Ocean Kingdom also welcomed nearly 10 million visitors last year. These figures show the development of the tourism and aviation industry in the city, Li said.
Xiangzhou District is the economic and technological centre of Zhuhai. In the district, delegates visited properties developed by Huafa Group, and enterprises focused on high-end services and manufacturing. These included MTU Maintenance Zhuhai, a maintenance depot for aircraft engines; smart card manufacturer Goldpac Group; home appliance company Gree Electric; as well as Zhuhai Easy Cross-border Supply Chain Service Co Ltd.
Lu Run Ting, Founder and Chairman of Goldpac Group, is a Hong Kong entrepreneur. He explained the appeal of Zhuhai as a place to do business.
“The Zhuhai Municipal Government has been supporting the development of companies over the last two decades without any intervention in the companies’ operation,” he said, adding that this support has been a factor in the company's growth and success.
Liu Qiying, Deputy Secretary of Xiangzhou’s Party Committee, said that the district will focus on introducing more policies to promote innovation, to attract more research and development, design and financial services companies from Hong Kong.
In Jinwan District, the medical biotechnology sector is one of the three pillar industries, besides aviation and logistics. Delegates visited By-health, a major producer of health supplements, which uses transparent and advanced technology across its manufacturing process.
Delegation leader Tam said that the two-day packed schedule had been eye-opening.
“I had not appreciated that the industrial development of Zhuhai was on such scale and so highly modernized,” she said. “The opening of the bridge has significantly shortened the distance between the two cities, creating huge potential for further cooperation. Hong Kong businesses should grasp the opportunities that are arising.”