Over three years, the China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ) Hengqin Area of Zhuhai has become an economic powerhouse. GDP has climbed from 6.8 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) to 18.4 billion yuan ($2.9 billion). And, the area has recorded average annual growth of 39.2 percent.
A press conference was held on April 18 to summarize achievements and review development. Officially established on April 23, 2015, Hengqin FTZ was designated to pilot, promote, and exemplify provincial cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao.
Press conference [Photo by Dai Danmei / Zhuhai Daily]
Since 2015, the area has attracted considerable investment, technology, talent, high-profile projects, and other quality resources. It now has registered capital of 2.4 trillion yuan ($383 billion) from 45,800 firms. They include 44 Fortune Global 500 companies and 72 China Top 500 Enterprises, with 500 billion yuan ($80 billion) in projects nearing completion.
Facilitating are improved government services that are now accessible to 2,218 Hong Kong and Macao businesses in the area.
A "7+1" industrial pattern consists of "7" sectors: leisure-tourism, business services, financial services, cultural-creative industries, traditional Chinese medicine-healthcare, high and new technology, and R&D for science and education. The "1" refers to strategic emerging industries (SEI) such as new-generation information technology, artificial intelligence, biomedicine, digital economy, new energy, and new materials.
Gateway at Hengqin New Area [Photo by Li Jianshu / Zhuhai Daily]
Well-known tourist spots such as Sumlodol Hengqin Camping Park are turning leisure and tourism into another mainstay of economic development. The park, which opened Feb 2, was named a National Standard Pilot & Test Base due to multi-faceted camping, driving, and other recreational activities.
Moreover, Chimelong International Ocean Tourist Resort received more than 46 million visitors during its four years of operation. As testament to its leadership role in the domestic industry, 50 billion yuan ($8 billion) is being spent to construct more themed parks during the second-phase of the project.
Xiangzhou Port Culture Block Phase I is to become another tourism hotspot thanks to an integration of culture, tourism, and catering. Planned are a cultural street, art exhibition center, boutique hotel, museum, artist studios, and restaurants.
Xiangzhou Port Culture Block [Photo by Li Jianshu / Zhuhai Daily]
Meanwhile, Hengqin Laisun Creative Culture City is injecting new energy by helping young entrepreneurs. Furthermore, blueprints for Hengqin International Tourism Island have been submitted to the State Council.
Reignwood Hengqin Wellness Industrial Park is also promoted as evidence of how far the health industry has come. Tourism, leisure, and health industries are being promoted in turn, according to a local official.
Hengqin is also a popular venue for high-level sports competitions and conferences, hosting the China Reform (Hengqin) Forum and WTA Elite Trophy, among golf tournaments, bicycling tours, an e-sports center, and more.
As for innovation, Hengqin was the production base for the first high-performance SoC (system on a chip) chips that supported the national standard of Surveillance Video & Audio Coding (SVAC). The product was developed by the Guangdong branch of multimedia chip developer Vimicro.
Strong policy incentives are also partly credited for Hengqin's recent prosperity. A flurry of supportive measures includes annual subsidies of up to 100 million yuan ($16 million) for cultivation of hi-tech industries. Currently, a hundred eligible candidates have been granted 28 million yuan ($4.5 million).
Furthermore, 15,000 high-caliber personnel have been awarded over 100 million yuan ($16 million) in all. Chief among them are two imported academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering. More than 80 experts involved in the Thousand Talents Plan registered and ran their companies in the area during the period. There are eight post-doctoral scientific research workstations and 11 postdoctoral fellows.
Institutional innovation is another key factor in the area's progress, according to an official, with 310 items having made significant differences.
Hengqin officials said they will develop the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Economic Zone to make full use of transportation logistics. This will be coordinated with the FTZ, Hongwan, and north section of Shizimen Central Business District.