China issues plan for building Guangdong-Macao in-depth cooperation zone

2021-09-22 | & China Daily & Xinhua

▲ Aerial photo shows Zhuhai Hengqin International Financial Center (front) under construction and Hengqin new area financial island in South China's Guangdong province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council have issued a general plan for building a Guangdong-Macao in-depth cooperation zone in Hengqin. 

The plan showcases the central government's support for Macao's long-term development and will inject new impetus into steady and sustained implementation of "one country, two systems" with Macao characteristics. 

1. General Requirements

Hengqin Island is located in the southern part of Zhuhai City in Guangdong Province, just across the Macao Special Administrative Region. The new cooperation zone will be designated a total area of 106 square kilometers.

The plan defines the strategic position of the cooperation zone as a new platform to boost Macao's appropriate economic diversification, a new space that provides convenience to Macao residents’ life and employment, a new model to enrich the practice of "one country, two systems", and a new high point for building the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

The plan stipulates that by 2024, the zone will smoothly operate a new system marked by extensive consultation, joint construction, joint administration, and shared benefits between Guangdong and Macao. Public services and social security will integrate with Macao, and more Macao residents live and work in the zone. The collaboration framework between Hengqin and Macao has been initially established.

By 2029, the integrated system will be fully established with high-level collaboration on the economy and regulations between the zone and Macao, the development of characteristic industries will be scaled up, the system of public service and social security has improved. And the integrated development level of Hengqin-Macao has been further improved.

By 2035, the zone will fully demonstrate the strong vitality and strength of "one country, two systems", and the economic strength and technological competence will be greatly enhanced, with an efficient public service system and a better collaboration mechanism between Hengqin and Macao. The new zone's mission of promoting Macao's appropriate economic diversification will also be basically realized.

2. New Industries

According to the plan, the cooperation zone will develop new industries to help promote Macao's economic diversification.

Sci-tech research and development and high-end manufacturing will be developed. Integrated circuits, electronic components, new materials, new energy, big data, AI, the Internet of Things, and biomedicine industries will be developed. The construction of a microelectronics industry chain for characteristic chip design, testing, and inspection will be accelerated, as well as the IPv6 and 5G application demonstration projects, etc. 

Traditional Chinese medicine and other Macao's signature businesses will be promoted. For traditional Chinese medicine, food, and health products approved and registered in Macao, they are allowed to use the logo of “Made in Macao” or “Macao Design”. In addition, to support the development of rough diamond processing and build a world-class rough diamond and gemstone trading center.

Industries including culture and tourism, conventions and exhibitions will be developed. Hengqin will be built as an international leisure tourism island with high-level standards, and the construction of a world tourism and leisure center in Macao is supported in the plan. Tourism industries such as leisure vacations, conferences and exhibitions, sports events tourism, and health industries such as regimen and rehabilitation.

Modern finance will be encouraged to develop, particularly supporting Macao to innovative develop the wealth management, bond market, and financial leasing in the cooperation zone. Preferential policies concerning corporate income tax will be improved, all the eligible industrial corporations can enjoy a 15% income tax reduction. 

Besides, measures will be rolled out to attract talents from home and abroad, providing the maximum convenience and quality service, especially for the international highly-skilled talents to access the zone. For instance, for highly-skilled talents and those in urgent needs who work in the zone, the individual income tax will be levied at a reduced rate of 15%.

3. New Home

The cooperation zone will be a new home for Macao residents to live and work, said the plan.

Macao residents are encouraged to find jobs there or create their own businesses. Various measures are adopted to encourage Macao young people to work in the zone. The talents in the field of finance, architecture, planning, and design can provide services in the zone that have met the requirements of registration and the industry regulatory supervision, and their overseas work experience can be regarded as the same as the domestic experience. 

Cooperation between the zone and Macao society will be strengthened in areas concerning people's livelihood. To advance the construction of “Macao New Neighborhood”, connect the Macao’s livelihood public service and social security system such as education, medicine, social service, etc. To effectively expand quality living space for Macao residents and the vehicles of Macao can easily get access to the zone. 

Infrastructure connectivity will also be boosted via the construction of high-speed railway projects, such as the light rail extension from Macao to Zhuhai, the high-speed railway from Guangzhou to Zhuhai (Macao), the intercity railway from Nansha to Zhuhai (Zhongshan). Moreover, the collaboration of functions and the cooperation of industries among the zone and Zhuhai Airport and Zhuhai Port need to be strengthened. 

4. High-Level Opening-Up

The plan also stressed building an integrated new system with Macao featuring a high-level opening-up.

Under the system, declaration procedures for outbound and inbound goods between Macao and the cooperation zone will be further simplified. To implement the preferential tax policy of bonded goods list in Hengqin, goods are duty-free except for those that are non-exempt specified by laws and administrative regulations. The non-exempt import goods, shall go through customs procedures, collect import tax and tariffs. 

Inbound and outbound travel will also become highly convenient. On the basis of mutual agreement and safety requirements, to promote the cooperative inspection and simplify the mode of going through the custom, increase the convenient level of customs clearance, and strictly implement the frontier health quarantine inspection. 

Innovative measures will be introduced in terms of cross-border financial management. To strengthen the connection between the financial market of cooperation zone and the offshore financial markets of Macao and Hong Kong, explore the construction of an electronic fence system and the possibility of allowing free flows of cross-border capitals in accordance with the principles of overall planning, service entities, risk controllable, and progressing gradually.

A highly convenient mechanism for market access will be established, and efforts will also be made to facilitate the safe and orderly flow of internet data across the border. 

5. Extensive consultation, Joint Construction, Joint Administration and Shared Benefit

With the promulgation of the plan, an administration will be jointly established to develop and manage the cooperation zone. The administration implements a dual director system. The Governor of the Guangdong Province People’s Government and the Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) will jointly serve the directors. An executive deputy director will be appointed by the SAR, and other deputy directors will be appointed under consultation between Guangdong and SAR. Members will include relevant departments of Guangdong and Macao, and the Zhuhai Municipal People’s Government, etc. 

An executive development organization will be established under the administration. This organization’s responsibilities include international promotion, investment attraction, industries introduction, land development, projects construction, and people’s social welfare, etc. in the zone. The organization leader will be appointed by the SAR, and both Guangdong Province and Zhuhai Municipal will appoint personal to participate in the coordination work involving Guangdong. 

The cooperation zone is specified to be managed by Guangdong Province. A benefit-sharing mechanism will be issued to support the joint exploration between Guangdong and Macao. All investment income will be used by the administration for the construction and development of the zone. The central government will allocate subsidies to the zone in terms of corporation attraction, employment expansion, etc. The amount of subsidy will not exceed the central government’s tax sharing from the zone. Furthermore, a normalized assessment standard needs to be established to fully reflect the contribution to the development of appropriate economy diversification of Macao. The assessment should be carried out annually and the result shall be reported to the leading group of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. 

6. Guarantee Measures

In addition, measures are proposed to guarantee the delivery of the plan. 

Upholding the CPC leadership and strengthening Party building in the cooperation zone. To strengthen the Party’s overall leadership in every process of the development and construction of the zone, strengthen the commitment to the “Four Consciousnesses”, the “Four-sphere Confidence” and the “Two Upholds”.

The plan stresses the strengthening of laws and regulations, intensifying empowerment deepening reform and expanding opening-up in key areas such as economic management, business environment, and market supervision, establishing and improving the risk management mechanism, reinforcing the organization and implementation under the guidance of the leading group of the Greater Bay Area.

Source: & China Daily & Xinhua 

 Edited and translated by GUO Xinxin