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Bay Area development on the minds of all at conference

By Zhou Mo and Chai Hua in Shenzhen | HK EDITION | Updated: 2021-02-05 09:30
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The fourth session of the 12th Guangdong Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference finished on Monday in Guangzhou with committee members submitting over 900 proposals. Many were related to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Eric Fok Kai-shan, a member of Guangdong Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference who comes from Hong Kong, proposed that the sport industry in the Bay Area should be developed so that it could become an important part of the country's "dual circulation" development pattern.

At the present time, the Bay Area's sport industry is facing some problems, Fok said. One is that Hong Kong's sport enterprises have difficulty in getting licenses to operate as businesses on the Chinese mainland. Difficulties also lie in mutual recognition of qualifications among coaches, regulation and insurance matters. Another difficulty is that there isn't a regional sport cooperation platform, which makes it hard for the 11-city cluster to jointly hold large-scale sport events and make good use of the facilities in each city.

Fok suggested that a pilot demonstration area be set up in Guangdong's free trade zones where reforms to sport-related policies could be carried out to perfect a licensing system. He proposed that the government establish a Bay Area sport platform, which would serve as a bridge between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, and could deal with such matters as sport venues' use, inquiries, licensing, and sport promotion. Moreover, Fok advised that sport-related departments of the three governments could enhance communication and work together to hold large-scale sport events.

Gordon Lam, a committee member who comes from Hong Kong, proposed setting up an isolation zone where technology professionals from Hong Kong and Macao can minimize the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said communication and cooperation between Guangdong and Hong Kong's innovative technology firms and associations are largely blocked by cross-boundary quarantine measures.

He chose Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City in Guangzhou and the Shenzhen part of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park as two such potential working zones for Hong Kong and Macao professionals.

Chan Man-chau, a committee member who comes from Hong Kong, focused on Hong Kong youths' senior secondary school education in the Bay Area. Children of Hong Kong and Macao residents can now enter primary and junior secondary schools across the boundary, but they face problems in being admitted to senior secondary schools, such as a shortage of places, high enrollment requirements, and a complicated application procedure.

As economic, trade, and cultural relations between Guangdong and Hong Kong become closer, there is a growing demand from Hong Kong families for their children to receive an education in Guangdong, he said.

Chan suggested increasing the supply of public high school places for Hong Kong students and exploring new ways of education. Shenzhen should be a pioneer in the process by allowing Hong Kong students to enjoy the same treatment as their mainland counterparts, he said.

Chan's proposal has received support from the other 27 committee members from Hong Kong.

Lee Chong-cheng, a committee member who is from Macao, focused on promoting Macao's high-tech enterprises, which he believes are crucial for the city to diversify its economy and achieve sustainable growth.

He suggested the Guangdong and Macao governments work together to create a high-tech enterprise "white list" and release it to the public on a regular basis.

Enterprises on the "white list" could enjoy preferential policies in the Bay Area in terms of office space, funding, tax, and talent absorption, he advised. For example, the governments could provide better terms on bank loans or consider granting them the same treatment as State-owned enterprises; subsidies could be given to enterprises that hire Macao employees to help them attract more talent from the special administrative region.

Lyu Guolin, a deputy of the Guangdong Provincial People's Congress, called for the integration of the Bay Area's transportation network to be expedited.

While a series of intercity transportation projects has been established, she said the next step should focus on high-quality connectivity and integrated services based on these facilities.

The vision of "half an hour living sphere at the core center of the Bay Area and one hour for the whole area" could be realized as we are striving to build railways, leading to a massive surge in personnel and cargo, Lyu said.

She suggested different cities in the Bay Area could jointly provide services with the standard of one unified megacity and the aim of transportation should be upgraded from "people can travel among these cities" to "quickly and conveniently travel" through the area.

He Jun, a member of the Guangdong Provincial Committee of the CPPCC, proposed setting up a pilot blockchain-based platform for Macao's luxury products at Hengqin island in Zhuhai, Guangdong.

Chinese mainland consumers' demand for luxury goods rose amid quarantine measures to control the global pandemic, he said, arguing that it is a good time to launch such a platform.

Hengqin New Area, adjacent to Macao, could implement offshore duty-free policies for Macao's goods such as clothes, cosmetics, and bags.

Amid concerns of counterfeit items, his advice is to utilize traceable digital labels empowered by blockchain technology, noting that other measures to facilitate online sales include online customs declarations and integrated cross-boundary logistics deliveries.

Zhou Jian, a deputy of the Guangdong Provincial People's Congress, suggested Guangdong establish a training center integrating vocational education and industry development to ensure a plentiful supply of professional talent.

Zhou, who is also the founder and chairman of Shenzhen-based robot maker Ubtech, said the establishment of such a training center could help the robot industry meet growing demand for sufficient personnel as well as to retain them.

Zhou said with such strong support the Bay Area could become a stronghold for the rapidly developing intelligent robot industry.

We should establish a systematic and comprehensive artificial intelligence education mechanism, including course design, evaluation methods, contests and training centers, Zhou added.

Lee Koi-ian, a committee member who is from Macao, proposed that greater efforts be made to develop cross-boundary e-commerce between Guangdong and Macao and explore a distinctive development mode for the sector.

Lee said that a complete e-commerce ecosystem should be created which involves implementing supportive policies among enterprises in the sector, developing several key projects, giving full play to the Zhuhai-Macao industry chain and complementing the Hong Kong-Shenzhen industry chain.

The sector should make good use of digital technologies to promote its development and strengthen industry supervision by establishing a consumption dispute resolution mechanism and a credit rating system, Lee said.

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