The Greater Bay Area is not just a collection of nine cities and two Special Administrative Regions. It is also a springboard to a much larger hinterland in Guangdong province, and beyond.
This hinterland is shrinking – in distance – as new high-speed railways open. The latest example is the opening of the Meizhou-Shantou High-speed Railway, which is being described is the “wing insertion” necessary for the take-off of the eastern side of Guangdong.
After four years of construction, the new railway officially opened today, allowing trains to run on the line at 250 km/h. It connects Meizhou, an important Hakka area, with a population of more than 4 million, with Chaoshan, just outside Shantou. From there, trains run down the eastern seaboard of the province, before hitting the Greater Bay Area at Huizhou, where they connect to the GBA’s high-speed railway network.
Analysts say that the railway’s opening will have a major impact on the upgrading of industries located in the eastern side of the province, as value-added chains are better integrated and talent flows start to push eastward.
The new railway connects Meizhou to a deep-water port, airport and high-speed rail center hub at Chaosan, which will likely push industries to extend their logistics chains further inland, where land and labor costs are lower. It also is likely to attract greater tourism numbers, as GBA residents are now just a few hours away from the beautiful countryside around Meizhou, with picturesque Hakka villages and an area renowned for its cuisine. The area’s star attraction is Yinna Mountain, 46 km from downtown Meizhou, one of the province’s three most famous mountains.
Huizhou’s history as a settlement for Hakka people who migrated down from central China dates back to the earliest days of the Qin dynasty, but it was only formally established during the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127AD).