Macau a rising star in Greater Pearl River Delta

Thursday, October 29, 2009
Issue 856, Page 5
Word count: 981
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Macau will be one of the metropolitan regions to form an economic, social and eco-environmental core in the Greater Pearl River Delta, according to the first strategic study jointly conducted by Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau.

The “Planning Study on the Co-ordinated Development of the Greater Pearl River Delta Townships”, which was commenced in early 2006 and undertaken by the Peking University and the Guangdong Urban and Rural Planning and Design Institute, had its findings announced and discussed yesterday during a day-long seminar held in Macau.

The Greater Pearl River Delta (GPRD) Townships, which comprise of Hong Kong, Macau and nine other cities in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) – namely Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing – constitute one of the most advanced and globalised economic hubs in China.

According to the research findings, it is proposed that Guangdong Province, Hong Kong and Macau should collaborate to build a “well-co-ordinated and sustainable system of world-class townships which are vibrant, energetic and globally competitive”.

As such, Macau should work towards the goal of shaping itself to become the world’s most appealing tourism and recreation centre as well as commercial and trading service platform simultaneously.

Short to long term goals are proposed in order for the “world-class townships” to come true.

By the end of 2012, the cities’ main task is to minimise the impact of the global economic downturn through measures such as regional cooperation, industrial re-structuralisation and macroscopic controls by governments.

As for the mid-term objectives until 2020, the mainland and SAR governments need to “allow unobstructed circulation of elements in the townships, fully optimise the overall spatial structure, and develop the Bay Area of Pearl River Estuary into a region with the potential to become the most developed city-region in the world.

Also, before the end of 2030, the goal is “to become highly developed world-class townships with more convenient circulation of elements, both internally and externally, and high integration of the economy within the townships.

Three spatial strategies

The three major spatial strategies highlighted to achieve co-ordinated and sustainable townships are the “strategy for optimising spatial structure”, “strategy for high accessibility” and also “strategy for quality environment”.

Of the first strategy, the idea of “a Bay Area with three Metropolitan Regions” is proposed referring to the Bay Area of the Pearl River Estuary, and Guangdong/Foshan, Hong Kong/Shenzhen, and Macau/Zhuhai.

These areas are set to constitute an economic, social and eco-environmental core within the GPRD Townships.

The study says that the Bay Area and the three metropolitan areas should take part in international competition and cooperation under the “identity” of the GPRD Townships, thus targeting to exercise the consolidation functions of global cities such as Tokyo, London and New York.

At the same time, the areas should take a “pivotal role” to promote the overall economic development of the townships and serve as an economic hub of China.

In regard to the “strategy for high accessibility”, it focuses on the establishment of a systematic transportation network, a “one-hour intercity traffic circle” and “cross-boundary seamless connections”.

The study says connections between major traffic nodes such as airports and ports should be further strengthened to reinforce the integrity and accessibility of the external links of the region and also the Bay Area’s function as a hub of external links.

“One-hour intercity traffic circle” implies that commutation between two places within the Bay Area and the three metropolitan regions can be completed within an hour, mainly by railways and highways.

In order to achieve “cross-boundary seamless connections”, Hong Kong, Macau and the PRD should join forces to enhance the cross-boundary traffic networks and boundary control facilities in a bid to overcome the hurdles between the three systems, reduce the time and cost spent on border crossing, as well as increase the overall traffic efficiency in the GPRD Townships, the study suggests.

Meanwhile, the strategy concerning quality environment, according to the research findings, is to establish a comprehensive regional eco-security system, cooperate on regional environmental management and define environmental conservation duties for each place.

Francis Wong Chan Tong, chief of the office for the Secretary of Transport and Public Works, said in a press conference that the Macau SAR government is “very concerned” about how to strike a balance between development and environmental protection.

“The government will try to minimise the impact of the development [on Hengqin Island] to the full extent,” Mr Wong said.

Song Jin Song, president of the City Development Centre of the Guangdong Urban and Rural Planning and Design Institute, also said that conserving non-renewable resources is very important and these resources should not be destroyed to exchange for development.

Hence, Mr Song said the “big and small Hengqin mountains”, amongst other locations on the island, can never be reclaimed in the future when development plans are being implemented in the townships.

Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Lau Si Io, said in the opening speech that Macau will push forward “more intimate” Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau cooperation through promoting the connections between major infrastructure facilities, reinforcing industrial cooperation and inventing innovative cooperation approaches.

Secretary Lau also said that Macau will give priority to safeguarding sustainable development in the GPRD region.

“Strengthening border construction, enhancing transportation systems, upgrading border clearance efficiency, facilitating the seamless connections between the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, Guangzhou-Zhuhai Intercity Rail Transit and the transportation in Macau, as well as promoting co-ordination and cooperation between the Macau and Zhuhai airports [are means to enhance effectiveness of development plans],” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Wong said that if border passenger clearance could not be improved during the future development of the GPRD Townships, it would be a “big regret”.

The clearance issue is beyond the jurisdictions of the Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau governments, but Mr Wong said he believed that through continuous studies in the future feasible plans could be proposed to the Chinese central government.

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