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China’s Nansha Injects New Impetus into Opening-up and Cooperation in the GBA


China’s State Council issued an overall plan to promote comprehensive cooperation among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao by further deepening opening-up in the Nansha district of South China’s Guangdong province, according to a circular released on June 14.

Nansha will step up such cooperation to build it into a center of strategic importance that collaborates with Hong Kong and Macao and benefits the Greater Bay Area (GBA) and beyond, the circular said. The district is set to further drive cooperation and opening-up in the GBA as it embraces an opportunity to evolve from the region’s geographic center to a key functional role.

The district significantly connects to urban clusters in the GBA as it serves as Guangzhou’s only gateway to sea routes. “About 38 nautical miles away from Hong Kong and 41 nautical miles away from Macao, Nansha can link to the GBA’s 11 cities and the international airports of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong within a 100-kilometer radius,” noted Dong Ke, mayor of Nansha. The district has put the building of a “half-hour transportation circle” on a fast track since the start of constructing the GBA. That provides more solid groundwork for collaboration with Hong Kong and Macao to develop Nansha into a door for high-level opening-up, according to Nansha District People’s Government of Guangzhou City.

Colored container trucks shuttle back and forth throughout the Nansha Port area dominated by the sounds of cranes humming. In 2021, the port became one of the world’s busiest seaports, seeing up to 17.66 million TEU containers shipped across its foreign trade network that comprises 135 sea routes. On May 30, 2022, a China-Europe freight train departed from the Nansha Port, a move marking the integration of the Silk Road Economic Belt with the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The multimodal rail-water-road transport system was made possible by the operation of the Nansha Port Railway, said Song Xiaoming, vice general manager of Guangzhou Port Company, adding that an increase in China-Europe freight-train services put the district in a better position to support the GBA in building the Belt and Road and to connect with the rest of the world.

Buy from and sell to the world. The commitment to opening up has turned Nansha into a hub for cross-border e-commerce, with a total of nearly 600 companies registered for that particular business to date. The value of trade in cross-border e-commerce between January and May grew by some 87% year-on-year to about RMB 15 billion.

At the same time, Nansha features more prominently in the global business landscape as it is on track to emerge as a brand-new center for international exchanges. While the permanent site of the Greater-Bay Science Forum is being planned, the International Finance Forum (IFF) annual meeting has been hosted nonstop. That being said, Nansha will build a new platform for the GBA to increase international economic cooperation under the Belt and Road framework. This is how Nansha further integrates into the regional and global economy.

Nansha now leads the GBA in sci-tech innovation endeavors. To be specific, it is home to over 620 companies in artificial intelligence and biotechnology. A host of homegrown high-tech firms, such as Zhaoke Ophthalmology and CloudWalk Technology, went public, and CAS Space Exploration, Guangdong’s first unicorn company in commercial spaceflight, was relocated to Nansha. Innovations emerge at a faster rate. Moreover, the district has stayed committed to Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao joint sci-tech innovation systems and mechanisms, as evidenced by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Guangzhou), which will start operation this September. The HKUST (GZ) project, in turn, enables Nansha to motivate universities to play their inherent role in driving innovation. And among others, an industrial park for entrepreneurs and innovators from Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao will be in place around the HKUST (GZ) campus as a way to create synergy among the government, industries, universities and research institutes.

Founded as a state-level new area and part of China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone, Nansha has grown from a demonstration zone of all-round cooperation among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao to the world-facing carrier of strategic importance for greater collaboration with Hong Kong and Macao. That means the district has an increasingly significant role to play in national development strategies. More importantly, it shows the world where the GBA will go and how China remains committed to reform and opening up.

Source: Nansha District People’s Government of Guangzhou City