Greater bay area project could address Hong Kong’s land resource challenges, Carrie Lam says

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The highly-anticipated Greater Bay Area (GBA) project could be the answer to Hong Kong’s land resource challenges, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said at a forum last Wednesday.

“Without land, I can’t entertain requests for industries to [be based in Hong Kong], whether these are science and technology, or setting up another international school, or building a private hospital and so on. That is where the bay area project may come in,” said Lam during the Asia Pacific Summit.

“With the opening of this major infrastructure, connectivity will be enhanced. We’re talking about a [zone to live in where commute would only take an hour].”

Lam then added that she believes other cities in the GBA could even provide land resources for schools and care facilities for the elderly.

The Greater Bay Area initiative is an ambitious plan to build a world-class city cluster by linking Hong Kong, Macau and 9 cities in Guangdong Province. The aim of the GBA initiative is to create a bay area economic cluster in South China capable of competing, and even overtaking, similar economic zones around the world such as the San Francisco Bay Area, Greater New York and the Greater Tokyo Area.

“Other cities in the GBA, for example Zhuhai and Jiang Men, have something Hong Kong lacks: abundant land that can be used for homes and business development. Hong Kong could potentially address its land resource challenges by effectively working with other GBA members,” Philip Ho, a director at the Hong Kong-based BCP Investment, told Harbour Times.

Former city leader Leung Chun-ying echoed Lam’s comments at the forum.

“One of the biggest constraints on the social and economic development of Hong Kong is the shortage of land that can be developed,” Leung said. “Bay area cities, particularly those on the west side of the delta, have much more land to offer.”

“One can envision the possibility of Hong-Kongers having more affordable and more decent housing [in the other areas],” he said.

Leung further noted that a shortage of quality health care in Mainland has been a major hurdle for some Hong-Kongers considering to retire in China.

Only 1.7 doctors are available to serve 1,000 patients in China, compared with 2.6 doctors per 1,000 patients in Hong Kong. When it comes to nursing services, there are 2.6 nurses per 1,000 patients on the mainland, well below the ratio in Hong Kong which sits at 6.9 nurses per 1,000 patients. The gap is even more pronounced when the mainland is compared with the United Kingdom and United States, where the figures stand at 7.9 and 11 nurses, respectively.

Ho from BCP Investment agreed with Leung’s comments, and thinks Hong Kong could contribute in this regard. “With a huge pool of skilled medical experts and facilities, Hong Kong could make use of its medical technology and human resources to work with other GBA cities that have abundant land but lack the required medical resources to develop world-class hospitals and clinics,” said Ho.

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