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Friday, September 9, 2016, 23:59

HK should work more with neighboring cities: Expert

By Feliks Cheang

HONG KONG - Hong Kong should change its mindset and work with its neighboring cities such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou to grow together, an industry insider has said.

“Some Hong Kong people still think they are superior to people from Shenzhen or other cities in the Pearl River Delta region,” Sean Chiao, president of AECOM Asia Pacific, said during the annual China Conference held by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (AmCham HK) on Friday.

“They failed to recognize that, in the future, it will be a big place doing business together – rather than an independent, outperforming city,” he remarked, stressing that regional development is vital to urbanization in China.

In 2014 the Chinese central government issued a plan – “new-type urbanization” – which envisaged 60 percent of the population living in urban areas by 2020. Authorities are pushing the implementation of a number of regional development plans. These will require the development of new urban centers.

Chiao urged the development of whole regions, and stressed the need to develop megalopolises – megacity clusters – in China’s urban growth.

Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen, chief executive officer of MTR Corporation, echoed the idea of regionalization, which will lead to sustainable development.

“Beijing, say, cannot keep growing in terms of urbanization,” Leong said. “But the creation of a megalopolis allows for sustainable development – not only in Beijing but also in Tianjin and Hebei.”

A Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei coordinated development would allow specialization in each of the cities. It would look to develop a megacity cluster by combining Beijing’s political and cultural power and high-tech industries with Tianjin’s port facilities and traditional industries in Hebei province, according to Leong.

Moreover, he highlighted the need for connectivity vis-a-vis China’s regionalization and urbanization.

“Over the next 10 to 15 years, the rail lines are in addition to the significant investment that is going on within the cities,” he said.

Citing the time reduction in traveling between Beijing and Tianjin by the advanced and seamless high-speed train, he stressed the need for the same connectivity within the Pearl River Delta.

Leong also saw the edge brought by building the railway. Railway property such as shopping centers, apartments and offices above or adjacent to metro stations are driving the demand for property estates as well, Leong told the forum.

AmCham HK convened more than 200 entrepreneurs, senior executives from top global companies in Hong Kong and neighboring places for the China Conference on Friday.

Entitled “Managing the Transition: Foreign Business in the New China”, the annual event aims to discuss and access trends in China’s economic development as well as evolving domestic and international business issues.

Urbanization, with significant increase in urban dwellers, will create a new base of consumer consumption, and also require an expansion of existing energy capacity, transportation systems, infrastructure and healthcare system.

Regarding urbanization, however, Chiao stressed the human and cultural aspects of a megacity.

“After all, big cities all look the same. Urban planners should not ignore the identity and speciality of a city, or region, in urban development.” he concluded.

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