The State Council’s approval for the Hengqin New Area to become an “International Leisure and Tourism Center” has been in the works for some time, so the announcement yesterday came as little surprise to anyone who has been following its development. Nevertheless, the endorsement from Beijing has shone a spotlight on this big island opposite Macau, where cranes are hard at work on a massive new development that will capture global attention very soon.
At the end of this year, the Hengqin Railway Station opens. It will be similar to the West Kowloon Station in Hong Kong, with immigration facilities for both the mainland and Macau housed in the same building. It will also be a similar size, with the capacity to handle 80m visitors a year (Macau received 35m last year). The opening will likely be the spark that ignites a frenzy of media attention for this island, one of three special economic zones in Guangdong (together with Guangzhou’s Nansha and Shenzhen’s Qianhai).
No date has been set for the station to open, but it is widely assumed to be on or near the December 20 anniversary celebrations for Macau, marking two decades since the SAR’s return to Chinese sovereignty. President Xi Jinping is expected to attend that event. We would not be surprised if he pops across to Hengqin for the new station’s opening as well. Hengqin is a project close to his heart, as he launched it while still Vice President back in 2011 with the “Guangdong-Macao Cooperation Framework Agreement”. Hengqin was also the first stop on his whirlwind visit to Guangdong in October last year.
Readers might realise that we know a thing or two about Hengqin. In fact, we are preparing a 30-page report on the subject that will be available soon. Anyone interested in knowing more, please email us and we will keep you updated.