Guangdong-Macao leaders at the reins of brisk Hengqin
Only 12 days after the new zone was created in Hengqin, Guangdong-Macao in-depth cooperation moved into high gear Sept 17 with the appointment of an Administration Committee led by Guangdong Governor Ma Xingrui and Macao SAR Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng.
The appointments are the latest step in a rapid series of actions taken since Sept 5 to further diversify the economy of Macao, integrate it with the Chinese mainland, and build up the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
Friday, Sept 17, marked the inauguration of the zone Administrative Committee. Governor Ma and Executive Ho now coordinate and determine major planning, policies, projects, and important personnel arrangements of the zone. An Executive Committee will be filled to manage business promotion, land development and project operations.
Display in plaza of Hengqin Checkpoint commemorates establishment of the Guangdong-Macao In-Depth Cooperation Zone [Photo by Li Jianshu & Zhu Hengxuan / Zhuhai Daily]
On the previous Saturday, Sept 11, the Macao University of Science & Technology opened its First Affiliated Hospital of the Faculty of Medicine at Zhuhai Renmin (People's) Hospital in Old Xiangzhou. The facility is for medical treatment, teaching, research, and sharing resources.
The previous day, Sept 10, daily throughput of Macao single-plate vehicles at Hengqin Checkpoint reached a record 2,400. The number of Macao single-plate vehicles accounts for more than 50 percent of the total traffic volume at the checkpoint.
Just a day before that, on Sept 9, China's first cross-border renminbi tax refund was processed by the Hengqin tax authority and Zhuhai Central Branch of the People's Bank of China as the funds were transferred directly to the overseas account of a Macao taxpayer.
Just three days after the in-depth cooperation plan was announced, on Sept 8, Qingmao Checkpoint (New Guangdong-Macao Channel) opened 24/7 for pedestrian crossings. With 100 self-service inspection channels, the fifth land checkpoint between Guangdong and Macao can process 200,000 travelers daily.
As for the near future, the cooperation zone's economic strength and technological competence is to be greatly enhanced by 2025 with an efficient public service system and a better collaboration between Hengqin and Macao. Its mission of promoting Macao's economic diversification will also be basically fulfilled.
Today, Hengqin has more than 55,000 business entities, of which more than 4,500 are Macao-funded – the highest concentration in the Chinese mainland. Total fixed-asset investment reached 360 billion yuan ($56 billion) since 2009. Regional GDP increased from 285 million yuan ($44 million) in 2009 to 40.7 billion yuan ($6 billion) in 2020.
Leading up to conversion of Hengqin Island into the cooperation zone:
Institutional innovations were made so that Macao investors could complete business registration in one trip. Cross-border offices opened and the practices of Macao lawyers, architects, doctors, and tour guides were permitted.
Hengqin International Scientific & Technological Innovation and Advanced Intelligent Computing centers, and Guangdong-Macao Cross-Border Financial Cooperation (Zhuhai) Demonstration Zone came under construction.
On the academic front, four Macao State Key Laboratories established branches in Hengqin. The TCM & Translational Medicine R&D Center of the University of Macao opened in May and 12 scientific innovation projects have contracted for the UM-Huafa Group Joint Laboratory.
Macao people living and working in Hengqin were afforded relaxed exit-entry procedures, access to Zhuhai medical insurance, and services of the Hengqin Comprehensive Service Center of the General Union of Neighborhood Associations of Macao, which has helped 70,000 people.
Not least, construction of Macao New Neighborhood is well underway west of Tianyu Road. There, Macao natives will receive the livelihood facilities and public services they are accustomed to. Over the next five to 10 years 30,000 to 50,000 from Macao are expected to live and work in Hengqin.