LCQ4: Proactive integration into development of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area

     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Yung and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Erick Tsang Kwok-wai, in the Legislative Council today (Oct 26):


     On July 1 this year, the State President remarked that the Central Government fully supports Hong Kong in its effort to seize historic opportunities offered by the national development and actively dovetail itself with the national strategies such as the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area). The Chief Executive pointed out on the same day that the Government would leverage and combine the respective strengths of Hong Kong and the Mainland, and facilitate the integration of Hong Kong's basic research results with the industry chains, talents, market forces, etc. on the Mainland, especially in the Greater Bay Area. In respect of facilitating Hong Kong's more proactive integration into the development of the Greater Bay Area for pursuing greater development, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it will set up official organisations in the nine Mainland municipalities of the Greater Bay Area to provide one-stop services for Hong Kong people and Hong Kong enterprises; if so, of the timetable or roadmap;

(2) how it will improve the functions of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangdong, so as to strengthen Hong Kong's communication and co-operation with Mainland authorities at all levels, thereby grasping more comprehensively the national, provincial and municipal conditions; and

(3) whether it will recruit persons who are more familiar with Mainland affairs to serve as officials in charge of its official organisations in the Mainland municipalities of the Greater Bay Area, so as to further strengthen the communication and co-operation with local authorities, better grasp the latest local information, as well as provide more timely and better services for the Hong Kong people and Hong Kong enterprises there?



     In his report to the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, General Secretary Xi Jinping depicted that China will continue to develop the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) and support Hong Kong and Macao in better integrating themselves into China's overall development and playing a greater role in realising national rejuvenation. On the other hand, dovetail with national strategies to create strong impetus for growth is one of the key highlights in this year's Policy Address. The Government will establish the Steering Group on Integration into National Development (the Steering Group) to be chaired by the Chief Executive, with three Secretaries of Departments (i.e. the Chief Secretary for Administration, the Financial Secretary and the Secretary for Justice) as deputies. The work of the Steering Group includes formulating strategic plans for Hong Kong to dovetail with the GBA development, proactively forging ahead with development and collaboration, and formulating work plans and priorities with a view to fostering a greater flow of people, goods, capital and information within the GBA.

     Under "one country, two systems", Hong Kong has the distinctive and prominent advantages of enjoying strong support of the Motherland and being closely connected to the world. GBA is the best entry point for Hong Kong to better integrate into the overall development of the country. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government continues to capitalise on Hong Kong's strengths to serve the country's needs and proactively take forward the development of the GBA. The HKSAR government will also strengthen interconnectivity between Hong Kong and other cities of the GBA, so as to make greater contribution to the national development, and to bring tremendous opportunities and room for Hong Kong's development.

     Response to Hon Chan's question is set out below: 

(1) With the support of the Central Government, the HKSAR Government has proactively taken forward the development of the GBA through efforts at different levels, in order to support Hong Kong residents and enterprises to make the best use of the opportunities brought about by the GBA. It also helps Mainland cities of the GBA tap into international markets, leveraging Hong Kong's dual roles in "going global and attracting foreign investment". 

     The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangdong (GDETO) of the HKSAR Government and its Shenzhen Liaison Unit whose service areas cover the nine Mainland cities of the GBA, have jointly promoted the development of the GBA and fostered the development of Hong Kong people and enterprises in the GBA. To further enhance publicity and promotion work in the Mainland cities of the GBA as well as the support to Hong Kong people and enterprises there, GDETO will set up the "GBA Development Promotion Centre" (Promotion Centre). Through strengthening strategic co-operation with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), InvestHK and relevant organisations and institutions in the Mainland, and by means of providing information and enquiries services, organising seminars and study missions, the Promotion Centre will promote opportunities as well as provide appropriate assistance to Hong Kong people and enterprises who are interested in developing in or have already settled in the Mainland cities of the GBA. The Promotion Centre will also combine with and utilise the network of the HKTDC's "GoGBA Business Support Centres" which will expand to the nine Mainland cities of the GBA gradually, so as to better understand the development needs of Hong Kong people and enterprises in the Mainland cities of the GBA, strive to assist them in resolving the problems they encounter, and support them to develop their business locally. 

     Meanwhile, to enhance the promotion of Hong Kong's dual roles in "going global and attracting foreign investment" in the development of the GBA, the Promotion Centre will make use of different forms of exchanges and promotional activities to encourage Mainland talents and enterprises to captialise on Hong Kong's various advantages under "one country, two systems" to explore more opportunities. The preparatory work for the Promotion Centre is being taken forward smoothly and the Promotion Centre is expected to launch officially by early next year. In addition, as announced in the Policy Address this year, Dedicated Teams for Attracting Businesses and Talents will be set up in the Mainland offices to proactively reach out to target enterprises and talents in the Mainland and persuade them to pursue development in Hong Kong.

(2) One of the key functions of Mainland offices is to maintain liaison with various levels of government in the Mainland in order to get abreast of the latest development at the national and local level, to reflect the concerns and wishes of Hong Kong people and enterprises in the Mainland as well as to discuss with the Mainland authorities on providing appropriate assistance to Hong Kong people and enterprises in distress in the Mainland as and when required. GDETO and its three liaison units have all along been proactively liaising with various government agencies in the five provinces and regions under its coverage, including the different Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Offices, Development and Reform Commissions, Departments of Commerce and Departments of Public Security, etc. Both sides from time to time discuss various matters and policies and co-operate in organising and participating in various events. Currently, GDETO and its Mainland counterparts have maintained effective communication and co-operation, and it is expected such effort will be further strengthened in the future. Serving as our goal to further strengthen co-operation with the Mainland authorities, we have set key performance indicators in this year's Policy Address where the number of Mainland offices organising visits to Mainland authorities or bodies and the number of Mainland office attending speaking occasions will increase by 15 per cent in 2024 as compared to 2022.

(3) In addition to maintaining contact and liaison with the Mainland authorities, Mainland offices also report to the HKSAR Government about the latest development in the Mainland, and facilitate the exchange and collaboration between the two places in trade, investment and culture, etc. As the head of a Mainland office has to represent the HKSAR Government in handling official matters with the Mainland authorities, as well as to shoulder the financial and legal responsibilities associated with the use of public money and various contractual arrangements, the candidate leading a Mainland office should thus possess vast public administrative experience and be familiar with the policies, division of labour and internal operation of the HKSAR Government. A senior civil servant with extensive executive experience and ability taking up the post of the head of a Mainland office will lead the office to operate smoothly and discharge its relevant functions effectively.

     Currently, GDETO is the official body of the HKSAR Government in the Mainland in forging ahead and following up on the relevant matters relating to the development of GBA. The post of the GDETO Director is an established permanent civil servant post, filled by an experienced administrative officer at the directorate rank. It has all along been the practice of the HKSAR Government to select a suitable civil servant in terms of seniority and experience to take up the post of Director of a Mainland office. In fact, there is no shortage of officers within the HKSAR Government who are familiar with Mainland affairs. Take for instance, in the current GDETO, the incumbent Director and various Deputy Directors have working experiences in the Mainland. Regardless of whether HKSAR Government officials have stationed or worked in the Mainland in the past, the duties of these officials nowadays are deeply involved in dovetailing with national strategies and communicating with the Mainland. In addition, GDETO has also employed local and experienced staff members, who work with Hong Kong-based officers collectively to provide better support to Hong Kong people and enterprises in the Mainland.

Ends/Wednesday, October 26, 2022
Issued at HKT 16:30