Foundations strengthened for prosperous years ahead
The Zhuhai Special Economic Zone is reshaping itself with a modern industrial system, infrastructure, and urban functions to meet the needs of a permanent population exceeding 3 million and achieve Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 600 billion yuan ($89 billion) by 2025.
After 40 years as one of China's first SEZs, Zhuhai's population growth has become the highest in Guangdong due to desirable livability and generous talent polices. It is expected that more than 5 million will reside in the city and generate a GDP of 2 trillion yuan ($297 billion) by 2035. Comparatively, Zhuhai was home to 360,700 permanent residents in 1979 and 2.02 million in 2019.
Likewise, city GDP increased from 261 million yuan ($39 million) in 1980 to 343.59 billion yuan ($51 billion) in 2019. Annualized GDP growth from 1980 to 2019 and per capita GDP in 2019 both ranked second among the other SEZs: Shenzhen, Shantou, and Xiamen.
Honghe Bridge is well under construction to access the link line of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and be a pivotal connection between the East and West wings [Photo by Li Jianshu / Zhuhai Daily]
Nevertheless, in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the 2019 GDP of Zhuhai-Macao was only 14.6 percent of that of Shenzhen-Hong Kong, and 22 percent of Guangzhou-Foshan.
The modern industrial plan calls for five 100-billion-yuan ($15-billion) clusters covering integrated circuits, biomedicine, new materials, new energy, and high-end printing equipment. A group of leading enterprises will also be introduced and incubated to develop strategic emerging industries.
As for infrastructure, the already-comprehensive land-sea-air-railway transport network will grow further improved with construction of the Lingding Sea Channel, Guangzhou-Jiangmen-Zhuhai-Macao and Guangzhou-Zhongshan-Zhuhai-Macao high-speed railways, extension of Guangzhou's Metro Line 18, Huangmao Sea Channel Bridge, and Terminal II of Zhuhai (Jinwan) Airport.
Expressways will also be built to directly link Zhuhai-Macao with the Shenzhen-Hong Kong and Guangzhou-Foshan clusters for the formation of a one-hour transport cycle in the Greater Bay area.
To provide efficient services, the city has a New Urban Center consisting of Hengqin New Area, the Zhuhai Free Trade Zone, and Hongwan area. Furthermore, the Western Central Urban Area spans Doumen and Jinwan districts, and there also is the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Development Belt. Urban management now is supplemented with 5G, big data, and other advanced technologies.