The Hong Kong Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (Provincial) Members Association on Wednesday held the inauguration ceremony for its Board of Directors at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Wang Zhimin, director of the Central People's Government's Liaison Office in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor were on hand to offer their congratulations. They spoke of the importance of Hong Kong seizing opportunities that development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area city cluster would create. The key word here, without a doubt, is "seize", because the opportunities are up for grabs rather than just being reserved for certain parties concerned.
Indeed, Hong Kong is not the only "big player" in the Bay Area city cluster development scene and therefore has no guarantee of taking a leading role. The SAR is by far the most developed cosmopolitan entity in the Pearl River Delta region, and capable of wielding the most influence in the formative period of the Bay Area and possibly beyond, but there is no promise other major cities cannot catch up or even surge ahead soon. Let's be honest instead of chest-pounding and shouting our heads off about the advantages Hong Kong currently enjoys over its mainland neighbors and the Macao SAR - the GBA city cluster will be one of the growth engines in the next phase of the nation's development strategy for building socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. That, however, does not mean taking the lead role in the Bay Area is a simple matter of all-out competition. Or why would central government authorities have so many times emphasized the importance of coordinated development?
Any modern urban development project on such a scale as the Bay Area city cluster would be a case of a criminal waste of all resources if it is not well coordinated scientifically down to the last detail in the distribution of labor and functions. That means Hong Kong must make sure its advantages progress as its functions grow with the role it assumes in the years to come. This is because neighboring cities such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen will no doubt build their own strengths necessary to play a role similar to Hong Kong's. Of course, to do so the two Guangdong cities have a lot of catching-up to do in several key aspects of socio-economic development, not the least a highly open and free market economy sustained by innovation and technology, among other critical human-capital elements.
That is where real competition takes place. No one needs to worry about Hong Kong's mainland neighbors taking over as the leading provider of professional services in the region any time soon, internationally speaking, but it won't be easy at all for Hong Kong to cater to the different needs of its potential customers used to different legal and judicial systems. In that sense its only advantage in market competition is an early start in acquiring necessary expertise and experience. But of course, success for the Bay Area hinges more on cooperation than competition, and cooperation is the underlying theme of the city-cluster project.