Guangzhou should reenergize itself by making new progress in integrating urban functions, enhancing soft power, and improving modern services and international business environment, said Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, during his tour of Guangdong in October 2018.
Such a historic mission can only be accomplished through development. A host of significant platforms, including the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Comprehensive Cooperation Demonstration Zone based in Nansha District, the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City, and the Experimental Zone for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Economy in Pazhou, are under construction; the reform measures to increase institutional interconnectivity among Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao have been rolled out; upgrades for the second phase of Yongqing Fang, Guangzhou’s historic landmark, have been vigorously made; and the pilot programs that encourage small and medium companies to aim high are being launched. With arduous efforts, the southern Chinese city has never ceased to amaze the world.
Over the past year, Guangzhou, guided by the development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, has stayed committed to developing itself into a national central city and a global metropolis. In doing so, the city aims to lead the country in building institutions for high-quality economic development, developing a modern economy, pursuing opening-up on all fronts and creating a social governance model based on collaboration, participation, and common interests, and serve as an important window for China to showcase to the world the achievements of reform and opening-up and for the international community to observe the progress of the endeavor.
Continuity and Reform: New Economic Drivers
How can Guangzhou have enjoyed such sustained growth for over two millennia? A quick look at the hustle and bustle of Yongqing Fang may provide a clue. Here, the captivating Cantonese opera, the elegant Xiguan, a traditional area of Guangzhou, and creative cultural products, among others, offer tourists a new flavor of Guangzhou.
A blend of Chinese and Western cultures, numerous ancient relics, and globally renowned intangible cultural heritage items such as Canton-opera, embroidery and painted enamel constitute the important soft power for Guangzhou to march forward and bestow the city with vitality and irreplaceable charm.
To the east stands the Canton Tower. On the night of September 25, 500 drones rose up in unison as sparkling miniatures of the Tower on Haixinsha Island, coinciding with the lighting show on the north side of the Pearl River Delta where Haizhu Square and the Flower City Square, the urban axles of the city, shone.
A host of Guangzhou’s historic and cultural landmarks along the 3-km-long traditional urban axle from Yuexiu Mountain to the Pearl River have in many ways demonstrated the uniqueness and charm of the millennia-old commercial city.
Building on past achievements, a 12-km-long modern urban axle stretching from the Yanling Park to Haixinsha Island, has emerged to reshape the skyline of Guangzhou and witness the transformative changes the city has made.
The two urban axles can both offer a panoramic view and reveal the promise of the city. Tianhe CBD on the Flower City Square has become a cluster of high-end industries in South China, including headquarter economy, finance, science and technology, and commerce, attracting 201 projects financed by the Fortune Global 500 companies with 62 buildings worth 100 million yuan each.
In the first three quarters of 2019, the top eight emerging industries of Guangzhou achieved an added value of 317.406 billion yuan, an increase of 7% over the previous year.
The launch of a number of high-end technology companies and projects, including CanSemi Technology and LG Display, is expected to create a multi-billion industrial cluster. With new driving forces and thriving industries, Guangzhou is set to take its quality development to a new high.
“A historic city features integration and inclusion, with a solid foundation on economic, social, urban development, and cultural fronts,” said Ou Jiangbo, director of the Institute of Quantitative Economics of the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences. On top of that, Guangzhou’s urban development is underpinned by its prime geographical location, strong industrial base, and booming business.
Guangzhou leads South China in the manufacturing and service sectors, covering the most categories of the two industries. Of the 41 industrial categories nationwide, the city has 35, with 70% in the service sector. An improved industrial foundation has enabled Guangzhou to gain an edge in modern services and accelerate the formation of a new industrial chain.
Xi’s remark that “private firms have contributed a lot to the national economy and enjoy a promising future” serves as a perpetual driver for private companies in Guangdong to innovate. “As a technology firm, we stay committed to innovation-driven development,” said Yao Weibing, president of Guangzhou MINO Automotive Equipment Co., Ltd., adding that its proprietary automatic drilling robot, the world’s first of its kind, would be introduced in South Africa and North America.
Opportunity and Cooperation with its neighboring cities
Guangzhou and Dongguan, a manufacturing hub in Guangdong, are interconnected than ever.
A bilateral meeting between the CPC municipal committees and governments of Guangzhou and Dongguan was conducted at the end of September 2019, resulting in the agreement signed by the two cities for deepening cooperation in some major areas and the framework agreement for strategic cooperation between Guangzhou Development Zone and the Dongguan Water Town Special Development Economic Zone.
This productive meeting is not the first in their bilateral cooperation. Guangzhou and the Dongguan Water Town Special Development Economic Zone share many land-based transport links, including the Guangzhou-Shenzhen Expressway and the Dongjiang Bridge. Beyond the Guangzhou-Dongguan-Shenzhen Intercity Railway, which is expected to operate soon, Guangzhou will have its eastern extension of Metro Line 5 to connect with Line 1 of Dongguan Metro.
Since last year, Guangzhou has signed strategic cooperation agreements with four cities in Guangdong—Foshan, Zhongshan, Qingyuan, and Dongguan, including intercity collaborative programs between Nansha and Cuiheng New Area, and between Sanlong Bay and Guangzhou South Railway Station.
Seizing opportunities for more vitality is the call of the times. In the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, a land of hope, Guangzhou enjoys increasing company of partners which boast multiple transport links and a free flow of resources.
Seizing opportunities for more vitality is also needed for further development. To do this not just requires an overall design for this historic yet dynamic city to integrate with the Greater Bay Area development but also requires it to play its due role in the Area and break new grounds in some critical fields to make a leading contribution to the Greater Bay Area development.
The city will make new progress in enhancing comprehensive urban functions and strengthen the role of Guangzhou as the core engine for the development of the Greater Bay Area, both to attract industries, talent, research and development resources, technologies and capital and to extend its functions to its neighboring areas.
It will comprehensively enhance its role as the international commercial center. From the ancient Maritime Silk Road to the China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair) today, trade and commerce has always been the core competitiveness of Guangzhou. In every session of the Canton Fair held in recent years, for example, the percentage of the purchasers from the Belt and Road countries and regions has reached 45 percent and over 8,000 enterprises from there have exhibited their products.
It will comprehensively strengthen its role as the integrated transport hub, such as Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Intercity Railway on the east bank of Pearl River, Guangzhou-Zhuhai Intercity Railway on the west bank and the intercity railways connecting Guangdong’s east to its west, and Guangzhou South Railway Station’s further links with the cities in the Pearl River Delta such as Foshan, Dongguan, and Huizhou, forming a ring-shaped transport network.
It will constantly enhance its role as the center of technology, education and culture. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Guangzhou) and the Pearl Science Park of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have officially begun their construction. These two key projects will deepen the collaboration among industries, universities and research institutes in the Greater Bay Area, and promote the scientific and technological innovation, industrial upgrading and quality development there.
Guangzhou has prioritized the implementation of the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area with the aim to build Guangzhou into an international metropolis, revitalize this historic city, and make new progress in the above-mentioned four aspects. Science, education, culture and modern services resources spread from Guangzhou to the Greater Bay Area via the convenient transport network and therefore promote the birth of a cluster of world-class cities in the region.
In the meantime, the synergy from the collaboration between Guangzhou and Shenzhen is enormous.
Early September 2019, Guangzhou and Shenzhen signed The Framework Agreement on Deepening the Strategic Cooperation between the two cities. The Agreement specified that they will deepen the cooperation in the following aspects: supporting Shenzhen in building itself into the demonstration pilot zone for socialism with Chinese characteristics; jointly building an international scientific and technological innovation center, an international integrated transport hub, a modern industrial system with international competitiveness, and a quality transport circle suitable for living, doing business and travelling; accelerating the building of a new regional development pattern constituted by “one core area, one coastal economic belt and one ecological development zone”; strengthening the cooperation between Nansha’s Demonstration Zone for Comprehensive Cooperation among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao and Qianhai’s Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone.
Both as the two first-tier cities within 100 kilometers and the central city and core engine for the development of the Greater Bay Area, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are charged with an important mission to boost the development of neighboring regions. Therefore, it is of great significance for both to better strengthen their cooperation to enhance their role as a core development engine and to join hands with Hong Kong and Macao for a world-class bay area and city cluster.
Reform and opening-up: the lifeblood of a dynamic city
The construction of Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge, spanning the Pearl River, is in full swing, which will create a new route to connect Nansha.
“It will help Nansha solve the problem of being at the geographic endpoint in transport, improve its position in the whole transport network of Pearl River Delta and build Nansha into a transport junction in the Greater Bay Area,” said Mr. Lin Jiang, professor at Sun Yat-sun University’s Lingnan College. As the only sub-center of Guangzhou, Nansha extends the urban function of Guangzhou to the estuary of Pearl River.
Nansha serves as a typical showcase of Guangzhou. Nansha is perfectly located in the core area of Pearl River Delta with a confluence of three rivers and links with South China Sea, the world’s busiest shipping route, via eight river entrances.
Openness represents the tradition of Guangzhou and also the essence of this city.
As an important starting point of the ancient Maritime Silk Road, Guangzhou opened the door to the rest of the world more than 2000 years ago.
The history of the Canton Fair is the epitome of China’s glorious course of opening up. An enormous number of Chinese enterprises have come and stood the test of the market at the Canton Fair. It is also here at the Fair that the global market has witnessed the strength of Chinese-made products.
Among the first batch of coastal cities open to the outside world, Guangzhou keeps unleashing the vitality generated by reform and opening up. National pilot zones for integrated supporting reforms, state-level new areas, and pilot free trade zone have been constructed and thrived in Guangzhou. Therefore, an open, all-round, multi-tiered and wide-ranging system of opening-up has taken shape in the city.
Guangzhou is well aware that deepening reform and opening-up remains a key for Guangzhou to make new progress at a higher starting point and higher level for a more ambitious goal. The top priority for the city now is how to take the lead in deepening reforms in business environment.
In the first half of 2019, the Measures on Further Optimizing the Business Environment of Guangzhou was officially promulgated. With the deepening of reform, the high administrative efficiency and quality services of Guangzhou have been appreciated by both domestic and foreign enterprises. It only took three days for Zurich Insurance Group and the Ace Group, both Fortune Global 500 companies, to finish the registration for their branch in Guangzhou; BeiGene started its construction here only 15 days after the signing of the contract. With a total investment of 61 billion yuan, Foxconn’s Gen 10.5 Display Industrial Park finished its negotiation and started the construction within only 100 days. It only took one year and a half for Guangdong’s only production line for 12-inch chips in CanSemi Technology to put into operation after it broke ground. Evaluating the reform by means of the efficiency of services to enterprises is the secret to Guangzhou’s success in business enhancement.
Making continuous progress in modernizing the internationalized business environment is the key to the vitality of this city. Henry Fok, a famous entrepreneur in Hong Kong, once described Guangzhou as follows: “If you want to know what opening-up is like, go and find the answer in Guangzhou.” In order to keep improving the business environment of Guangzhou, it needs to make bigger strides to align itself with the rules and regulations of global investment and trade in addition to further improving administrative efficiency.
What Guangzhou is today is attributed to its incorporation of opening-up into the mindset of its people and of the implementation of reform into every innovative measure for development.
The Key Points for Guangzhou to Comprehensively Deepen Reform in 2019 published this April specifies 209 reform items covering 40 categories in 11 fields. Among them 60 projects were selected with top priority in 2019.
Only reformers can move forward, only innovators can gain strength, and only innovative reformers can finally win out. Only a city firmly dedicated to reform and opening-up can build on its rich historical heritage and embrace a bright future featuring integrated and high quality development.
Source: Nanfang Daily