A high-speed cross-border rail link between Hong Kong and Guangzhou has survived the region’s strongest typhoon on record and services will launch on September 23, as scheduled. China’s plan to connect Hong Kong and Macao with another nine cities in the neighboring Guangdong province using the new bullet train and the world’s longest bridge is part of its greater ambition to develop its largest economic cluster. The so-called Greater Bay Area – with 67 million residents – is set to be turned into a high-tech megalopolis
to rival Silicon Valley in California.
It has been around 20 years since the former European colonies of Hong Kong and Macao returned to Chinese
sovereignty. However, both cities remain vastly different from the rest of China in terms of their political, social, and economic indicators. For instance, the world’s largest gambling center Macao has a per capita GDP of 77,100 U.S. dollars, three times that of Guangdong’s richest technology and startup hub Shenzhen. That's according to HSBC Global Research data published by Bloomberg.
The former capitalist colonies also have their separate currencies, tax rates, passports, and legal systems. Challenges persist in cross-border movements of people, residency rights as well as many other logistical and political issues. They all will likely be resolved by the time Hong Kong and Macao lose their special status in 2047 and 2049 respectively. Until then, however, it might take more than a bridge and a train to close those economic and political divides in the Greater Bay Area.