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Editorial : Hong Kong needs a North New Territories plan

【明報專訊】THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT has announced its plans for the Qianhai and Hengqin Cooperation Zones, providing an important platform for Hong Kong's and Macao's integration into the overall development of China. Faced with new opportunities for its development, Hong Kong must seize them properly.

Hong Kong is an important gateway for China to the world, and Shenzhen is a mainland city connected to this gateway. For Shenzhen and the Greater Bay Area, the Qianhai Cooperation Zone will be a key point of connection between Hong Kong and the world in the future. Since its establishment in 2010, the Qianhai Cooperation Zone has always been so positioned that it will face Hong Kong and use the advantages of Hong Kong's professional services to make Qianhai a demonstration zone. So far, more than 11,000 Hong Kong companies have established offices in Qianhai. There is also a base for young entrepreneurs. Mainland officials say that a large number of Hong Kong companies in the modern service industry have congregated in Shenzhen. They have entered the mainland market through Qianhai. The expansion of the scope of the Qianhai Cooperation Zone will help these companies further achieve their ambitions.

The "Qianhai Plan" will open its door to Hong Kong professionals in many aspects. It will also advance the governance functions of statutory institutions and explore the possibility of Hong Kong people assuming positions in statutory bodies in Qianhai. All this shows that the main purpose of the plan is to enhance the modern service industry in Shenzhen and the related governance standards in an attempt to catch up with Hong Kong and get in line with international standards. For Hong Kong, the "Qianhai Plan" is both a challenge and an opportunity, and the outcome will be known in 2035. Now Hong Kong must work hard, be proactive, and turn challenges into opportunities. A lack of ambition or a "wait-and-see" mentality will mean that any golden opportunities will be missed.

The Hong Kong government has said that in order to accelerate the promotion of higher-level cooperation in Qianhai, the Hong Kong and Shenzhen governments have agreed to set up a high-level working group. The leader on the Hong Kong side is the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs. Such arrangements will definitely go a long way towards coordination between Hong Kong and Shenzhen and the reflection of the concerns of both sides. However, if the Hong Kong government is to seize the opportunities in Qianhai, it must be more proactive. The Qianhai Cooperation Zone is on Hong Kong's doorstep. Now the Hong Kong government needs to think about how to get connected to the Qianhai Cooperation Zone. From the perspective of geography and reality, the North New Territories, separated from Qianhai only by a bay, must be the point of connection for Hong Kong. Chief Executive Carrie Lam says that the North New Territories must be in cooperation with Qianhai, and a comprehensive plan for development will be necessary. The policy address next month will touch on the plan concerned.

The "Qianhai Plan" is a major development plan under the national policy. It has a clear goal, with the year 2035 being the target. It is likely that drastic action will be taken in pursuit of this goal over the next 14 years. In contrast, Hong Kong has taken more than 10 years to complete processes from planning to land resumption for the Northeast New Territories development plan alone. If the authorities put aside the concept of the duality between "core and periphery", they will definitely be able to explore more possibilities and even help throw off the many shackles that have limited the development of the New Territories over the years.

明報社評2021.09.10:向南集中變與北對接 香港需要「新界北方案」

中央公布前海及橫琴合作區方案,為港澳融入國家發展大局提供重要平台,香港發展迎來新機遇,必須好好把握。

香港是國家通往世界的一個重要門戶,深圳則是對接這個門戶的內地城市,對深圳和大灣區而言,前海合作區未來正是與港對接、通往世界的關鍵接駁位。前海合作區自2010年設立以來,定位一直是面向香港,利用香港專業服務優勢,令前海成為示範區,迄今已有超過1.1萬間港企在前海落戶,此外當地還有青年創業基地。內地官員表示,現時深圳聚集了大批香港現代服務業企業,它們通過前海進入內地市場,擴大前海合作區範圍,有助這些企業進一步大展拳腳。

「前海方案」在多方面皆向香港專業人士打開大門,另外又推進法定機構治理職能、探索港人在前海擔任法定機構職務的可能,凡此種種皆說明,方案主旨是提升深圳現代服務業及相關治理水平,爭取與香港看齊、跟國際接軌。「前海方案」之於香港,既是挑戰,亦是機遇,結果如何,2035年自有分曉,當下香港必須發憤圖強,主動進取,化挑戰為機遇,倘若抱着「躺平」心態,守株待兔「等運到」,縱有大好機會,亦必失諸交臂。

港府表示,為了加快推動在前海更高水平的合作,港深兩地政府早前已同意成立高層次工作專班,港方組長是政制及內地事務局長,有關安排對於港深協調、反映相互關切,固然有正面作用,然而港府若要好好把握「前海機遇」,必須更加積極進取。前海合作區面向香港,當下港府需要思考的,是如何與前海合作區對接,從地理和現實角度考慮,只有一灣之隔的新界北,必然是港方的接駁位。行政長官林鄭月娥表示,新界北須與前海協作,需要整全規劃發展,下月《施政報告》將會觸及有關計劃。

「前海方案」乃是國策下的重大發展規劃,放眼2035年,目標明確,未來14年勢必雷厲風行推進,反觀香港,單是一個新界東北發展區,由規劃到收地便花了10多年。當局發展新界北,只要拋開「核心-邊陲」觀念,一定可以摸索出更多可能性,甚至有助解開新界發展多年來的種種桎梏。

■Glossary 生字

congregate : to come together in a group

ambition : something that you want to do or achieve very much

drastic : extreme in a way that has a sudden, serious or violent effect on sth

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