On February 18, 2019, Beijing laid out its plan for the Greater Bay Area, which named Hong Kong as one of the key cities or thrusters. In this plan, Beijing identifies Hong Kong’s lack of sustainable economic growth and limited space for development as the city’s major challenges.
Nearly at the same time, the report of the Task Force on Land Supply came out in last year, concluding the land available in Hong Kong is “indeed not much for development.” The report proposes that Hong Kong is not in urgent need of land, but the rationalized and maximized utilization of the existing area.
Nowadays, only 25 percent of Hong Kong’s 1106-square-kilometer territory is built-up, and the other 66 percent is green land for environmental purposes, which is, due to complicated and ingrained political problems, hard to transfer. In this view, all of Hong Kong’s civic activities are just performing in 276 square kilometers with nearly 7.5 million population.
Currently, there are six existing land supply options by the government to cope with the soaring need of land: Rezoning, Redevelopment, Resumption, Reclamation, Rock Cavern Development, and Reuse of Ex-quarry Sites. All of these six options may sound reasonable in Hong Kong’s situation. However, as the Task Force on Land Supply noted at the beginning of this year, the land shortage dilemma is “still hard to resolve.”
The Greater Bay Area may provide an alternative to solve the shortage.
The plan asks to develop and establish the cooperation demonstration area and policies to “explore the new model for regional cooperation and deepen the comprehensive, coordinated development among Hong Kong, Macau, and the mainland.” It also offers specific forms of cooperation in the region, providing more land and facilitating the flow of human resources, capital, and so on.
Such cooperation between Hong Kong and the mainland started much earlier than the release of the Greater Bay Area plan.
On January 27, 2018, Chen Huiwei, then secretary of the Huizhou Municipal Party Committee, said in an interview with the media, “Huizhou hopes to increase cooperation with Hong Kong through the construction of Greater Bay Are, such as making full use of Hong Kong’s innovative resources and the advantages of Huizhou industry and building special cooperation zones to create a highland of innovative industries.”
A couple of months later, the representative of the National People’s Congress of the Hong Kong District, Mr. Zheng Yaoxuan, mentioned in September that he suggested the Hong Kong SAR Government to ask the Central Government to rent 30 square kilometers of land. The leased area should be in the one-hour life circle of the Greater Bay Area to build a new district in Hong Kong. It is expected to accommodate 600,000 Hong Kong residents and implement Hong Kong law, under the jurisdiction of Hong Kong.
Dr. Tang Wenliang, CEO of Gale Well Group Limited and CEO of Jihui Group, also said in an interview that the development of the Greater Bay Area could also alleviate the shortage of land supply in Hong Kong.
On the one hand, mainlanders who want to come to Hong Kong for opportunity can directly settle in the cities of the area, hence dispersing pressure on the population carrying capacity of Hong Kong. On the other hand, those from Hong Kong can also move to other cities in the Greater Bay Area.
Construction of the Greater Bay Area will gradually break the traditional boundary between Hong Kong and the mainland, offering more options for solving the land supply shortage problem.
of architecture, HKU