英文

Editorial : HK needs Greater Bay Area more than ever

【明報專訊】Amid the pandemic-battered global economy and an unpredictable international situation, Hong Kong has to concentrate more on development efforts so as to overcome the adversities brought about by the pandemic and get on its feet again. A practical and viable choice is setting the city's sight on the Greater Bay Area. From the business sector to the technological sector, there are views that Hong Kong should flexibly respond to the circumstances and prefer the easily accessible to the out-of-reach. Making inroads into the Greater Bay Area is the big direction. However, the Hong Kong government's enterprise in this regard is obviously far from enough. In contrast to the mainland and Macao where the pandemic is under control, Hong Kong is still mired in the mud. The failure to implement the Hong Kong Health Code so far has obstructed people's travel between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of work to be done by the Hong Kong authorities on the policy level. They should not just sit back and wait until the end of the pandemic before making plans. The Hong Kong government must speed up its negotiation with Guangdong and Macao so as to eliminate the various bottlenecks and formulate substantial development strategies for deepening co-operation.

More than three years into the inclusion of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area into China's national development strategy, the concept has been gradually turned into action. The central government has announced multiple policies to remove barriers and restraints such as broadening the scope of mutual recognition of professional qualifications, allowing Hong Kong residents to apply for the mainland's residence permits, giving Hong Kong people the same treatment as mainlanders regarding property purchases in Greater Bay Area cities other than Hong Kong and so forth. Because of the loosened restrictions on property purchases on the mainland, the number of Hong Kong people going north to buy homes has significantly increased in recent years. Although the pandemic has hindered travel between Hong Kong and the mainland, as long as people on the two sides gradually resume their travel, it is believed that the above-mentioned trend will only be even more obvious.

Infrastructure in the Greater Bay Area has been built for interconnectedness. The construction of the extension of the Guangzhou-Dongguan-Shenzhen intercity rail line from Shenzhen International Airport to Qianhai was kicked off not long ago. Economic integration in the region has continued to accelerate. At the beginning of this year, the Guangdong provincial government raised the idea of establishing a platform called "Bay Area Connect" with the aim of promoting mutual recognition of standards, better convergence of rules and interconnection of policies regarding public transport, telecommunication fees and electronic payments so as to facilitate the flow of people between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. Last week, Governor of Guangdong Province Ma Xingrui said that his government will summon the province's full strength to boost the construction of the Greater Bay Area. The Guangzhou government will also roll out even more measures to make it more convenient for Hong Kong and Macao residents to live in Guangzhou and enjoy healthcare services there. There will also be measures helping Hong Kong and Macao young adults to start businesses in Guangzhou. Furthermore, the Greater Bay Area is preparing to launch a cross-boundary "Wealth Management Connect" scheme and Macao is also making active preparations accordingly. By comparison, Hong Kong has not taken any significant moves in this regard.

Many an impediment lies in the way forward amid the pandemic. To find the way out, one must adopt a pragmatic attitude rather than be politically orientated or put ideology in the first place. The escalating struggle between China and the US, as well as the impact of the pandemic on global industrial chains and the global economy, has caused great changes in the conditions of Hong Kong's development. On the contrary, the pandemic is under control on the mainland. Other cities in the Greater Bay Area are only a short distance away. Be it innovative technology or doing business, it is feasible. One can set off onto the mainland once the Hong Kong Health Code is implemented. The importance of the Greater Bay Area to Hong Kong in the times of a pandemic is greater than before.

For Hong Kong people who work or live on the mainland, issues concerning taxation, welfare, insurance and labour have yet to be resolved. The Hong Kong government must speed up the related discussion with other cities in the Greater Bay Area. At the same time, it must also set concrete goals for the short, medium and long term. Doctrinaire talk and continuing to play for time are in no way acceptable.

明報社評2020.09.29:克服疫境再上路 香港更需大灣區

疫情打擊全球經濟,國際形勢波譎雲詭,香港要克服疫境再上路,必須注入更多發展動力,放眼大灣區是切實可行的選擇,由商界到科技界都有意見認為,疫下需因時制宜捨遠圖近,進軍大灣區是大方向,港府推動力卻明顯不足。內地與澳門疫情受控,香港仍未擺脫泥沼,港康碼至今未通,窒礙粵港澳人員往來,然而當局在政策層面仍有很多工作要做,不能坐等疫情結束再打算。港府必須加快與粵澳兩地部門磋商,打通各類關卡環節,制訂具體發展策略深化合作。

粵港澳大灣區列入國家發展策略至今3年有餘,由概念逐步化為行動。中央宣布多項政策拆牆鬆綁,包括擴大專業人士資格互認範圍、香港居民可申領內地居住證、港人大灣區其他城市置業可享當地人相同待遇等。隨着內地放寬置業限購政策,港人北上置業近年顯著增加。雖然疫情窒礙香港與內地人員往來,然而只要兩地人員流動逐步恢復,有關勢頭相信只會更加明顯。

大灣區基礎設施互聯互通,連接廣州、東莞、深圳三市的城際鐵路深圳機場至前海段工程,不久前才舉行開工儀式,區域經濟一體化步伐持續加快。廣東省政府年初提出「灣區通」計劃,旨在促進公共交通、通訊收費、電子支付等領域標準互認、規則銜接、政策互通,便利粵港澳民眾往還,省長馬興瑞上周表示,將舉全省之力,推進大灣區建設,廣州市亦將推出更多措施,便利港澳人士在當地生活和享用醫療服務,支持港澳青年赴穗創業。大灣區醞釀推出跨境理財通,澳門為此亦在積極籌謀。相比之下,香港在大灣區方面未有太大動作。

疫境前行掣肘多多,摸索前路必須務實行事,不能政治掛帥或意識形態先行。中美鬥爭愈演愈烈,還有疫情對全球產業鏈和經濟的衝擊,俱令香港發展環境出現巨變。內地疫情受控,大灣區其他城市近在咫尺,不論是創科還是做生意都運作到,一待港康碼落實就可進軍。疫下大灣區對香港的重要性,比疫前更大。

港人在內地工作和居住的稅務、福利、保險、勞工等問題仍待解決,港府必須加快與其他大灣區城市磋商處理,同時更應制訂短中長期具體目標,不能空談概念續歎慢板。

■Glossary 生字

adversity : a difficult or unpleasant situation

out-of-reach : beyond the capacity of sb to attain or achieve sth

make inroads into/on sth : to have a clear and definite effect on sth

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