A Tale of Two Cities

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What opportunities await Hong Kong following the bridge link opening with Zhuhai? AmCham member Philip Leung shares his personal thoughts in light of a recent trip to the coastal city 



Philip Leung with delegates on the soon-to-open Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge

My day in Zhuhai’s Xiangzhou district began as it would on a regular day back home in Hong Kong – with a brisk morning walk. Except here in Zhuhai there are no noisy crowds, traffic jams or black clouds of partially burned hydrocarbon spewed out by buses to contend with along the way.

Four decades of breakneck growth have created huge environmental and livability challenges in many cities in China. The Greater Bay Area around Hong Kong is particularly prone to these challenges due to its thriving economy and the resulting explosive growth in population.

Environmental pollution, and its associated healthcare expenses, can be costly in more ways than one. According to the research by RAND Corporation, air pollution alone costs China over 6.5 percent of its GDP annually. In today’s intense competition between city clusters, a world-class talent pool is the top ingredient for success. World-class talent has the luxury of choice, and they will certainly choose “livable” cities over polluted, noisy and congested ones.

As members of the Greater Bay Area business community, we should be proud of China’s economic and social achievements. However we must also recognize that continued progress in the world’s second-largest economy depends heavily on sustainable development.

It is encouraging to see that Zhuhai remains an oasis of tranquility, fresh air and scenic beauty. This vibrant city is currently only 70 minutes away from bustling Hong Kong — a journey time to be cut by half following the imminent completion of the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge. The bridge, among other things, will surely bring a quantum leap in the bi-directional movement of people, goods, services, information, capital, and business projects.

I am hopeful that one of the benefits of this bridge will be an even bigger leap in the collaboration and the economic integration between the two great cities of Zhuhai and Hong Kong.