Greater Bay Area, a focal region in China-ASEAN cooperation: Lim Hong Kian

2022-Mar-8       Source:

Surbana Jurong, an urban, infrastructure and managed services consulting firm owned by Singapore’s Temasek, has formulated plans in the Greater Bay Area and is positive about their development under the RCEP.

Editor’s note: the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (RCEP) came into effect on Jan 1, 2022. How will RCEP benefit the trade partnership in the region? How are companies planning to seize this opportunity? More insight could be found in “Hello! RCEP” presented by GDToday.

“The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) has a series of open policies when it comes to international firms. With such openness, we see many Southeast Asian companies already having businesses here,” said Lim Hong Kian, CEO, North Asia of Surbana Jurong Group. “And I think with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), this partnership will strengthen even more.”

The RCEP has created the largest free trade zone worldwide, according to China’s 2022 government work report, and China will continue to pursue high-standard free trade agreements with more countries. Surbana Jurong, an urban, infrastructure and managed services consulting firm owned by Singapore’s Temasek, has formulated plans in the GBA and is positive about their development under the RCEP.

Lim Hong Kian, CEO, North Asia, Surbana Jurong Group whose cooperation with China dates back to the1990s. (Photo provided to

RCEP to further ASEAN-Guangdong ties

The RCEP took effect on January 1. Its member countries include the 10 ASEAN states, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

“The implementation of the RCEP this year is just a first step to greater cooperation,” Mr. Lim said, “What I foresee is a free flow of people, goods and services so that we will see a unified region that does not separate countries or regions but a unified whole.”

Mr. Lim highlighted the Greater Bay Area (GBA) has been a focal region among ASEAN countries with a geographical advantage and good governance, especially under the RCEP.

According to the Guangdong Sub-Administration of China’s General Administration of Customs, the trade volume between Guangdong and ASEAN increased by 14.3% in 2021, reaching 1.24 trillion RMB. ASEAN has been Guangdong’s largest trade partner for two years in a row.

“We are also looking for future projects in the GBA,” Mr. Lim said. In 2020, Surbana Jurong opened a new office in Shenzhen, the innovation center of Guangdong where it gains traction with the local government to cooperate in architectural projects as well as urban renewal and planning, such as the design of Shenzhen Children’s Hospital and Shenzhen Natural History Museum.

According to Mr. Lim, the company is keeping its eye on other cities and districts in the GBA, such as Jiangmen, Zhongshan as well as Hengqin district in Zhuhai and Nansha district in Guangzhou. “Together with our business in Hong Kong, we will be able to provide the whole value chain of services in the GBA,” Mr. Lim elaborated.

“Qianhai will be GBA’s growth driver”

China issued a new plan for further developing the Shenzhen-Hong Kong cooperation zone in Qianhai, Shenzhen in September 2021. The plan increased the size of Qianhai by 7 times from 14.92 to 120.56 square km. It also formulated a blueprint to boost global resource allocation, breeding innovation and leading coordinated development.

Surbana Jurong is expanding its presence in Shenzhen from Futian district to Bao’an district, which adjoins Qianhai, in a bid to take full advantage of the new plan.

“The location of Qianhai is very strategic in the GBA. The bridge from Shenzhen to Zhongshan will shorten the travel time from Qianhai to other cities in the Pearl River Delta. And by ferry, it just takes one hour to Hong Kong,” Mr. Lim said.

The Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge is still under construction. It is a mega sea-crossing transportation infrastructure with a total length of 24 kilometers and will be fully open to traffic in 2024. By then, it will take only one hour to travel between major cities in the GBA.


Mr. Lim believes the Qianhai plan will also be a springboard for Hong Kong. “Land is scarce in Hong Kong. With the plan, Hong Kong companies will be able to expand to Qianhai. Consultants, engineers and architects can practice in the cooperation zone too,” Mr. Lim said.

“I feel that Qianhai has great potential, and it will indeed be the growth driver of the GBA,” Mr. Lim noted.

Reporter | Lydia Liu

Video script | Lydia Liu, Jiang Chang (intern), Chen Yingxin (intern)

Video editor | Chen Weifeng

Graphic designer | Mia

Editor | Wing, Steven, Jasmine, Jerry

Editor: Lydia

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