Macau’s integration with neighboring Hengqin New Area under the GBA masterplan appears to be picking up after a high-level meeting was held between Macau and Guangdong last week. Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng spoke of several areas of practical focus between the two sides after meeting his counterpart, Guangdong Governor Ma Xingrui, according to local media.
Foremost of these was the joint development of an area on Hengqin, yet to be formally defined, called the Intensive Cooperation Zone. It is not yet clear how this zone-within-a-zone will be governed, but it is possible that Macau law might be extended to it. This would be groundbreaking if it happens, as no such plan has yet been proposed for either of Guangdong’s two other New Areas – in Guangzhou’s Nansha or Shenzhen’s Qianhai. (Read our backgrounders on all of Guangdong’s zones, as well as specifically Nansha and Qianhai.)
What makes Hengqin more important to Macau is that the SAR is running out of space for development. Its current 20-year masterplan (2020-2040) does include land reclaimed from the sea, but nearly all of it is earmarked for residential development. Hengqin, opposite the casinos on Cotai, is seen as a place to expand industries and business – with some space already set aside for non-gaming tourism, Chinese medicine, technology, and the MICE industry, among others.
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