Zhuhai announced today its new masterplan for technological development, an ambitious blueprint that aims to transform the once-sleepy fishing village on the western side of the Greater Bay Area into a tech powerhouse. At the same time, details were released of Macau’s new Greater Bay Area Fund, which will raise 100 billion yuan initially and is focused on creating a southern version of Beijing’s futuristic Xiongan New District in the southern area of Hengqin, the special zone facing Macau’s casinos in Cotai.
According to a news release from the Zhuhai government, quoted by Nanfang Daily, the new tech policy is aimed at drawing a “road map” for the city to join the Greater Bay Area’s bigger project of becoming a globally competitive science and technology innovation hub.
Continue reading Zhuhai joins GBA tech drive
The new Hengqin Port was supposed to have opened on December 20, the same day as Macau’s 20th anniversary celebrations, but it appears that it will be ready only sometime in the first quarter. Macau’s new Secretary for Administration and Justice, Andre Chong, announced that work on the new facility was ongoing, and specific legislation still needs to be passed by the Legislative Assembly to govern how the Macau side of the port will be operated.
good news is, however, that the Macau government is already planning to license
tourist buses to go across the Lotus Bridge and pick up passengers there once
the port is ready. It was not made clear whether this includes shuttle buses
operated by the Macau casinos, or only coaches run by tourist agencies. The current
situation at the Macau side of the Hong Kong-Macao-Zhuhai Bridge (HZMB) has two
joint-service shuttles to take visitors to designated spots (at the two ferry
terminals) for transfer to casino shuttles, while non-casino tour buses run
current single shuttle bus running between Hengqin and the existing Macau
immigration facility at the Macau side of the Lotus Bridge is obviously not
going to be good enough once the new Hengqin Port opens, as its new high-speed
railway station will bring in a flood of new arrivals. The question is only
whether the casinos will be able to run their own shuttles or will be forced to
share a publicly run service. The new problem-plagued LRT system has not yet
been extended out to the Hengqin Port, so buses are the only mode of transport
for the foreseeable future.
For those who care to look, the Hong Kong protests are exposing flaws in many assumptions about Hong Kong’s competitiveness. This is not only a short-term concern, either. As revenues come under pressure, partly due to the protests, partly due to a slowing Chinese economy, operating costs are inevitably being looked at more carefully by companies based in “Asia’s World City”. It would be surprising if only a few were considering moving or scaling back their operations here.
The question is: Can other cities in the Greater
Bay Area offer compelling alternatives?
The short answer would be: Yes. But do some
Continue reading Hong Kong as regional HQ: time to move?
Hengqin’s moment in the spotlight is coming. Its massive new railway station is around three months from opening, but already the special economic zone opposite Macau’s Cotai district is gearing up to play a leading role on the Greater Bay Area’s main stage: This week it rolled out China’s first experiment with a city internet network that sits outside the Great Firewall.
Built by the Zhuhai Branch of China Mobile Guangdong, the Hengqin New Area now has an “international” internet infrastructure. Companies that plug into this network will enjoy significantly faster cross-border data transmission speeds, with buffering down from 70ms to 14ms, thereby increasing its efficiency by 80%.
Continue reading Hengqin breaches the Great Firewall
The Hunger Games are coming to a neighborhood near you.
This week saw the opening of Lionsgate Entertainment World, Asia’s first movie-themed vertical theme park. But you will never guess where it is: in Hengqin, the future Orlando of China.
The park is part of a much bigger resort being built in Hengqin, not far from the special economic zone’s new border crossing into Macau. Novotown, as the project is called, will start opening in phases, with Lionsgate coming shortly before the rest of Phase 1 opens in the second half of this year.
Continue reading Lionsgate Entertainment World: Be The Hero!
Zhuhai’s Hengqin New Area recently issued new incentives to encourage development of financial services supporting the special zone’s supply chain, with up to RMB10 million rewards available to eligible financial institutions.
Two types of financial institutions registered or operated in Hengqin are eligible. One is “supply chain financial institutions”, such as commercial banks, trust companies, microfinance companies, financing guarantee agencies, financial leasing companies, and commercial factoring companies. The other is “financial service platforms” which refers to institutions providing supplementary services such as information exchange, technological support, education, training, legal and tax services.
For microfinance companies, financing guarantee agencies, financial leasing companies, and commercial factoring companies, the government offers a rebate of 1% of the tax paid, up to RMB10 million for each company.
The management committee of the Hengqin New Area is also encouraging supply chain financial products, business model innovation, and other contributions to the local economy. RMB5 million will serve as reward for outstanding teams or individuals.
Read more in Chinese.
US entertainment company Lionsgate’s first Asian theme park, Lionsgate Entertainment World, is set to open in Zhuhai’s Hengqin at the end of this month.
The movie-themed “vertical theme park” will span 22,000sqm of indoor space and will feature 25 attractions including six based on Lionsgate franchises: The Hunger Games, Twilight, the Divergent series, Now You See Me, Gods Of Egypt, and Escape Plan.
Twilight and The Hunger Games will feature via simulators while Gods of Egypt will be the subject of a purpose-built indoor ‘VR roller-coaster’. The park will also feature shopping opportunities and restaurants.
Zhuhai has attracted 25 Macau-owned financial enterprises to invest in Hengqin, with a registered capital of RMB11.95 billion, since signing a new cooperation agreement with Macau last year.
Zhuhai launched the Qualified Foreign Limited Partner (QFLP) pilot program last December, becoming the second pilot city in the province after Shenzhen. The program lowered the entry barriers for foreign Hong Kong and Macau investors. The first Macau-owend QFLP pilot enterprise was approved this May.
Moreover, the Guangdong-Macau Cooperation Development Fund was launched in Hengqin, with an initial RMB20 billion investment. It has already provided RMB2 billion to support the Hengqin Science Town. Another RMB50-million fund was set up for the Macau Youth Entrepreneurship Valley, which has 196 Macau-invested projects and 23 enterprises investing RMB 433 million.
Other services launched recently through cooperation with Macau include cross-border vehicle insurance, and the cross-border transfer of non-performing assets. The Zhuhai Financial Working Bureau has drafted nine special programs covering the construction of a cross-border financial cooperation demonstration zone, a trading platform for Chinese herbal medicines, and a “single pass” system for the insurance industry.
Read more in Chinese.
Zhuhai’s (and Macau’s) biggest infrastructure project, the extension of the Intercity Railway Line out to Hengqin, will begin operations a month earlier than planned, on November 20. Known formally as the first phase of the Zhuhai Airport Railway, the line will connect Zhuhai Station at Gongbei to Hengqin’s Changlong Station, which is right next to the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, with seven stops in between. The second-last of these stops will be the gigantic Hengqin Railway Station, which is being built to handle 80 million passengers a year.
It is not yet clear whether this means the line will actually be carrying passengers on November 20 or will be running tests. It had previously been expected that the line would be formally opened by President Xi Jinping when he attends Macau’s 20th anniversary celebrations on December 20.
Interestingly, it appears that the Zhuhai Station will not provide a seamless experience for passengers coming in on the line from Guangzhou. They will need to disembark at the Zhuhai Station, exit on the ground level (the platform is elevated), and enter a separately managed area attached to the station, where other trains will take passengers out to Hengqin. The reason for this is that the Zhuhai-Hengqin extension will run trains more frequently than the Zhuhai-Guangzhou line.
The line will eventually connect with Macau’s Light Rail Transit network at the Hengqin station, possibly within a few years once the LRT is ready. At that stage, the Hengqin station will be the second largest underground railway station in China, next to Shenzhen’s Futian station. It is also understood that the Zhuhai Airport station will eventually have a direct line running to Guangzhou South Station.
Read more in Chinese.
Guangdong has officially launched a plan to attract young innovators from Hong Kong and Macau into its three key special economic zones of Hengqin, Nansha and Qianhai. The first phase, which has begun, will construct “innovation bases” for youth (under-40s) at the three zones by next year. The second phase will see these bases extended to Guangdong’s nine cities of the Greater Bay Area.
Readers can be forgiven a yawn. But the drive behind these projects should not be underestimated. The GBA masterplan envisages a future where young people from the two SARs are deeply embedded in the province’s growth from bases where their costs are significantly lower and their growth prospects are significantly brighter. They can still go to Lan Kwai Fong or the Venetian to let off steam on weekends, but their lifestyles will be inextricably linked to the development of the mainland cities that are busy rolling out cheap accommodation, low taxes, and beautiful/handsome partners for them. (OK, that last one was kidding.)
Read more (in Chinese).