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13 January 2022, 09:54

Greater Bay Area expected to help bolster sustainable development

Erik Solheim, former executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme. Photo: Chinadaily.com.cn
Erik Solheim, former executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme. Photo: Chinadaily.com.cn

GUANGZHOU, 13 January (BelTA - China Daily). - The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is expected to be built into a world-class city cluster with enhanced connectivity and improved green development, speakers said at the latest Vision China event.

The GBA Development Forum (Guangzhou) & Vision China was held virtually on Wednesday under the theme "Greater Bay Area in the New Era: Toward a Green Future Built on Connectivity and Sharing".

The event, jointly held by China Daily and the information office of the Guangzhou city government, brought together officials, experts and entrepreneurs to discuss topics related to the Greater Bay Area such as its development prospects and provide advice on the construction of the area in the new era. Seminars themed "Low-Carbon Sustainable Development" and "Connectivity for Shared Prosperity" were held during the event.

Erik Solheim, former executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said in the opening remarks that the Greater Bay Area is expected to play a significant role in the global green transition.

Citing the world's recent green efforts, Solheim said the Greater Bay Area, which is home to some prominent high-tech companies driving the green economy, is at the forefront of this green transformation.

"I also encourage the Greater Bay Area to take an interest in the fair transition for China, because Guangdong for sure will benefit fantastically from the green shift," he said. "There will be millions of new jobs, a better environment for people and you will contribute to the great global cause of fighting climate problems."

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, highlighted the considerable achievements the Greater Bay Area has made during the past few years, saying that Hong Kong will make more efforts to boost connectivity and foster low-carbon and green development.

She said the government of the SAR hopes to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with other cities in the development of low-carbon communities, and the development of carbon reduction technologies and talent training, to jointly contribute to achieving the country's carbon neutrality goals.

Zhou Shuchun, publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily. Photo:chinadaily.com.cn
Zhou Shuchun, publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily. Photo:chinadaily.com.cn

Zhou Shuchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily, said the Greater Bay Area is one of the regions with the highest degree of openness and the strongest economic vitality in the country, playing a significant strategic role in the overall development of the country.

He said that Hong Kong, Macao and the nine cities in the Pearl River Delta region have significant economic strength, incomparable geographical advantages and solid foundations for cooperation, giving strong impetus to the development of the Pearl River Delta and even the whole country.

Zhou's views were echoed by Guo Yonghang, acting mayor of Guangzhou. Guo said the Greater Bay Area, despite the impact of COVID-19, has made steady progress in systems and mechanisms, infrastructure connectivity, technological innovation, industrial development and exchanges, showcasing that cooperation between Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao enjoys a solid foundation and broad prospects.

Zhang Xiaoqiang, executive vice-chairman and CEO of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said the Greater Bay Area is a template for high-quality development, as well as a strategic pillar supporting the new paradigm of high-level opening-up.

Zhang said the area should fully implement the development concepts of innovation, coordination, green, openness and sharing to realize high-quality development.

Looking ahead, Zhang expected more creative integrated policies, measures and rules will be formulated and implemented in cities in the Greater Bay Area. He said the area needs to focus on rule and mechanism connectivity among the cities and further upgrade the level of market integration.

More efforts should also be made to boost technological innovation, and promote upgrading of the industrial structure and green and low-carbon development, Zhang added.

"I firmly believe that with the support of the central government and the engagement of all circles of society, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao can build the Greater Bay Area into a leading landmark worldwide and a world-class city cluster," he said.

In February 2019, the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council jointly released the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, marking a new phase in the construction of the Greater Bay Area.

According to the plan, the main focus will be building the area into a vibrant world-class city cluster, a globally influential international innovation and technology hub, a key component of the Belt and Road Initiative and a showcase for in-depth cooperation between the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao. It will also become an ideal place to live, work and visit, the document said.

Having lived in the Greater Bay Area for almost two decades, Peter Helis, chief adviser of the Guangzhou Huangpu District, said he believed it is one of the most vibrant areas and possibly the fastest developing one in the world.

"I remember the slogan quite well, which was 'from made in Guangdong to create in Guangdong'. The drive gained such momentum that the GBA now not only accounts for half of the annual patent registrations of China but is also internationally recognized as an innovative powerhouse," he said.

Going forward, Helis said more efforts are needed to increase the area's global recognition, build an environment suitable for working and living and attract more talent.

Reaping the benefits of China's reform and opening-up over the past 40 years, the Greater Bay Area has attracted talent, capital and other essential resources from all over the world, which has helped the area create a comprehensive industrial chain, and an experimental, devoted and inclusive vibe, said Lionel M. Ni, president designate of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Guangzhou).

"By providing novel technologies that help entrepreneurs grow their business", he said that HKUST (Guangzhou) "will become a powerful engine in driving the GBA's development through innovation".

He added that the GBA also possesses "favorable factors" that help HKUST (Guangzhou) in its "mission in driving a paradigm shift in higher education and nurturing out-of-the-box talent".

Citing the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Sio Chi Wai, chairman of the Macao Development Strategy Research Center, said that there is a chapter about development of ecological civilization, which clearly states the requirements for environmental protection and governance.

Noting some systematic discrepancies among the cities in the region, Sio said the area should build a more consistent, closer and efficient mechanism to improve environmental governance, which will help improve the efficiency of making the related policies and laws.

Nathan Keith Williams, a video producer at China Daily, said that the Greater Bay Area stands out due to its great economic strength, booming manufacturing and new technology sectors, modern and comprehensive transport system and high level of internationalization.

Citing a recent 12-day tour of the area, Williams said he had seen tremendous changes and distinctive development models in the Greater Bay Area in terms of technological manufacturing and innovation.

"During my travels I have seen a vibrant and internationally competitive first-class bay area, with distinctive geographical advantages, robust economic strength, a high concentration of key factors of innovation, advanced level of internationalization and solid cooperation foundations," he added.

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