Around the globe, every “Bay Area” boasts its claim to fame.
New York and Tokyo are financial meccas. San Francisco and Silicon Valley are synonymous with innovative technology. Tampa remains a magnet for tourism.
But Southern China is home to a Bay Area that some say could eventually top them all.
Guangdong province, Hong Kong, and Macao together are home to 67.5 million people. Five major airports and three of the world’s ten busiest seaports allow for strong commerce and tourism. The “Greater Bay Area” also touts a GDP of over $1.3 trillion, with multiple industries thriving here.
“In Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, we have different industries together … not just one,” said Zhang Guangnan, professor of regional studies at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, “And each is at developmentally different stages. The service industry is developing. Manufacturing is well developed … tech companies like Huawei and Tencent are the giants. The area continues to flourish.”
Zhang goes on to say that a diverse array of culture and food, along with living costs that are relatively lower than those of comparable cities will continue to lure workers and their families to the Greater Bay Area.
Despite that, others say the area faces some challenges, largely in its transportation landscape.
“One problem is the lack of connectivity between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao,” said Wang Fumin, a senior official with the Transportation Department of Guangdong province. “Another is the unbalanced development between the western and eastern regions of the Pearl River Delta. The two areas suffer from a lack of cross-river channels.”
The Pearl River Delta is the low-lying area surrounding the Pearl River estuary in Southern China and the exact region that holds the dense network of cities – nine prefectures of Guangdong province and two Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macao.
Traffic between the former is about to improve though. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is just weeks away from opening to regular traffic. Experts say it will shrink driving time between the three aforementioned areas from three hours to 30 minutes.
Regarding the latter, the Lianhua Mountain Bridge, Shiziyang Tunnel – a high-speed railway tunnel under Shiziyang, the northern part of the Pearl River estuary and Lingdingyang Bridge should alleviate Guangdong’s transportation issues. Those plans are pegged for completion in 2035.