“Hong Kong City” proposed in Greater Bay Area

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The policy centre Business Professionals in Hong Kong has created a plan to transport a slice of Hong Kong into the mainland. Positioned as an idea to foster integration between the city and its mainland neighbours, it aims to address the needs of the citizens’ of both jurisdictions.

The Business and Professionals Federation of Hong Kong (BPF) held a media event yesterday to put forward a proposal that it thinks can bring benefits to both sides.

The BPF proposes building a “Hong Kong City” in the Greater Bay Area to serve as an integrated community designed for Hong Kong citizens to live in the mainland cities, while being guaranteed the quality of services they have long enjoyed in Hong Kong.

In the Hong Kong City, there would be schools following either the Hong Kong or international curriculum, as well as clinics and hospitals that meet Hong Kong standards. It is hoped that the City would be a modern community with Hong Kong-style amenities, including retail, food and beverage, and so forth.

In other words, the plan aims to set up places like Hong Kong’s Taikoo Shing, a middle-class mixed-used community, in the mainland cities, land resources of which can in return be utilized to help ease Hong Kong’s problem in finding adequate and affordable land.

The BPF argues that land is needed not just for housing, but also for schools, hospitals, elderly care and so forth. It is a forward-looking plan that takes different aspects into consideration.

“Such a development would leverage the advantages of lower land and development costs in the Greater Bay Area,” the BPF said. “It would allow Hong Kong professionals and professional companies in the financial, legal, accounting, architecture sectors to live and practice in the Greater Bay Area.”

The Hong Kong City would be a bridgehead for professionals to widen their activities in China, further fostering the integration of the economies of the cities in the Greater Bay Area.

“The idea is to allow Hong Kong to participate in the Greater Bay Area and the city can export its services. Meanwhile, the mainland cities can receive additional investment,” Vicky Davies, vice president of the BPF, told Harbour Times.

But to make this work, the BPF said there are prerequisites that require the support from the local governments.

The Guangdong government would need to provide suitable land and related infrastructure facilities in a location that provides suitably quick access to Hong Kong. The prices for land transfer should also be appropriate.

The local governments would also need to streamline customs and immigration procedures to make travelling easier.

Davies also named two of the challenges that the proposal might meet.

“One is about the tax. Tax is higher in China than in Hong Kong. Another would be the Guangdong government granting approval to set up schools using the Hong Kong curriculum,” she said.

The BPF said there needs to be a plan that gives Hong Kong residents in a Hong Kong City a special tax status in China, as the tax policies are different in both places. A hybrid system is necessary to attract Hong Kong professionals to relocate, in addition to the acceptance of Hong Kong professional credentials by the mainland authorities for them to do business in the region.

At the media event, the BPF was also asked whether the legal and regulatory systems in the Hong Kong City would follow the Hong Kong standards, they said since Hong Kong City is in Chinese jurisdiction, Chinese law would be adopted. And if medical accidents do happen, they would be handled according to the Chinese regulations.

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