Greater Bay Area key milestone in China’s reforms and opening

Thursday, May 27th, 2021 20:27 |

Greater Bay Area key milestone in China’s reforms and opening

By Adhere Cavince

Since adoption of the reforms and opening policy by China in 1978, Beijing has gone through waves of integration into the global economy, bringing prosperity not just for China but also the rest of the world. As the world’s second largest economy inches towards even more inclusive and functional multilateralism with the 14th Five-Year Plan, a new breed of special economic zones are advancing China’s leading role in international trade and industrialization.

The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has come to both symbolize and drive China’s reforms and opening up. The mega metropolis is a fulfillment of China’s experimentation with special economic zones and is slated to power not just China’s economic development but also play an important role in the global economy.

The location of the Greater Bay Area also elevates it to play greater maritime, financial, technological and people to people connectivity with the rest of the world. The open economy status of Hong Kong and Macau will augment the indigenous role of Guangdong as the champion of reform and opening towards stronger integration of China into the global economy.

As the world’s most important engine for prototyping and manufacturing, the Greater Bay Area is a key node in the international supply chains with the highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies already. China’s top firms such as Huawei, ZTE, DJI, and Tencent are already located in the metropolis as more global brands jostle for space.

Already, the metropolis is famed for cutting edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, biomedical and healthcare technology, energy distribution systems and data connectivity sectors. These are all technologies of the future with a huge demand all around the world. With China expected to contribute over 20% to global economic growth between 2021 and 2025, the Greater Bay Area will come in handy to fulfill both product and service needs in China and abroad.

To further share the proceeds of its development with the rest of the world, China intends to leverage the Belt and Road Initiative to amplify utility of the Greater Bay Area to BRI participating countries. Through the BRI key pillars of infrastructure connectivity, financial inclusion, policy coordination, trade and cultural exchanges, China will have an opportunity to share its reforms and opening up experience with other countries.

For developing countries, a great learning point in the implementation of the Greater Bay Area is the utility of special economic zones in advancing economic transformation and development. China is currently helping a number of African countries, including Kenya and Ethiopia,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    to better design and sustainably implement special economic zones. With a veritable industrial capacity, Chinese firms from the Greater Bay Area could offshore their excess capacity to the emerging African economic zones as a continuation of reforms and opening.

With a rich ecosystem of startups, incubators, and accelerators in diverse fields, the mega metropolis offers alternative to earlier established innovation-led spaces like the Silicon Valley and London Bay. This not only promotes global competitiveness but also offers consumers and investors the added value of choice and convenience. It is great to see the momentum of implementation of the Greater Bay Area including the establishment of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park as well as a number of connectivity projects spanning roads, high speed railways, airports and bridges.

Given the immense potential in trade revolution that the Greater Bay Area is already delivering, it is important that international firms take advantage of the arising opportunities. China is now the world’s largest market as well as producer and it is only rational that global supply chains link up with Beijing.

The writer is a scholar of international relations with a focus on China-Africa relations. Twitter: @Cavinceworld.

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