Park employees from the Chimelong International Ocean Park in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, feed and play with white whales. [Photo/Xinhua]
The Hengqin New Area in Guangdong province has been designed as a new green, health and tourism island, playing a big role in supporting neighboring Macao's ambition to become an international leisure and tourism center. The new area is also expecting to expand its cooperation with investors from Macao and Hong Kong, to achieve that goal in the months to come, according to Wang Yan, deputy director of Hengqin New Area Free Trade Office.
"In addition to finance, logistics and cross-border e-commerce, Hengqin has planned to give its top priorities to develop its innovation, leisure, tourism, traditional Chinese medicine, culture, convention and exhibition, education and related environmentally friendly industries in cooperation with its Hong Kong and Macao counterparts," Wang told China Daily.
The Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, released by the central authorities in February, encourages cities in the Bay Area to further expand their cooperation and accelerate infrastructural connectivity.
Located at the mouth of the Pearl River, Hengqin island, adjacent to Macao, is now one of the three pilot free trade zones in Guangdong. It celebrated its fourth anniversary last month. The other two free trade zones include Nansha in Guangzhou and Qianhai in Shenzhen's special economic zone.
According to Wang, construction of the second phase of the Chimelong project is now being speeded up in Hengqin island and is expected to play significant role in boosting the area's tourism industry. Construction of the second phase is estimated to cost more than 50 billion yuan ($7.46 billion).
Chimelong International Tourist Resort in Hengqin has become a tourist destination in Zhuhai thanks to its scenic view. The resort attracts about 10 million tourists a year and has become a new engine for the city's economic growth, Wang said.
Construction of a number of health, sports, culture and leisure projects are also being accelerated in cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao investors in Hengqin.
The Guangdong-Macao Industrial Park has registered 24 projects so far, and the park has also earmarked another 5 square kilometers of land for further development.
"Of them (the 24 projects), 21 have started construction, with a total investment of 75.6 billion yuan," said Wang.
And the Traditional Chinese Medicine Science and Technology Industry Park of Cooperation between Guangdong and Macao is now being supported by 126 companies. The park covers an area of more than 500,000 square meters.
The park has attracted pharmaceutical companies, research and development centers, labs and medical testing institutions. It plays an important role in Hengqin's economic construction and promotion of traditional Chinese medicine abroad.
Wang promised the Hengqin New Area would further improve the investment climate and simplify procedures for companies and young people from Macao to operate businesses in Hengqin in the future.
In March, Hengqin established a 20-billion-yuan Hengqin Guangdong-Macao Development Fund to encourage Macao companies and young people to develop and start businesses in Hengqin.
Oscar Chen, CEO and founder of Zhuhai Digi Fluidic Biotechnology Co Ltd, said the Hengqin New Area has introduced many preferential policies in taxation, social welfare, employment and education to help attract Macao companies and reduce production costs.
Chen added that Hengqin would have of potential for development in the years to come after the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area was released.
"In addition to the closeness to Macao and Zhuhai airports, it takes less than an hour for vehicles from Hengqin to reach the Hong Kong international airport via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge that started service late last year," Chen said.
Hengqin is also linked to major cities in the prosperous Pearl River delta and the rest of the mainland by advanced high-speed rail and expressway networks.
Chen's company mainly develops and manufactures medical devices, instruments and reagents.
Hengqin's GDP grew from 6.8 billion yuan in 2014 to 24.51 billion yuan in 2018, with an average annual growth of 29.1 percent. And its actual foreign investment increased from $257 million in 2014 to $1.06 billion last year, with an average annual rise of 32.7 percent.