The second 21st Century Maritime Silk Road China (Guangdong) International Communication Forum was held in Zhuhai from September 19 to 21. Hundreds of participants from media, political and business circles across the world got together to have in-depth discussions and exchange on the theme “New Era, New Silk Road, New Image”. The new practices and achievements in constructing the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road were also demonstrated. According to experts, the forum would advance the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone and build a new image of an open Guangdong. As the event’s host city, Zhuhai also presented its new image and aspirations on the world stage.
“Zhuhai is a cradle of the Maritime Silk Road. Since reform and opening up, Zhuhai has maintained close business and cultural relations with countries and regions along the routes. Against this new historical backdrop, we will strive to transform the city into a new economic engine for the Greater Bay Area and a great magnet with unique features,” said Guo Yonghang, Secretary of the CPC Zhuhai Municipal Committee.
The presence of Zhuhai as a strategic gateway will be more obvious when the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bridge begins operation. According to data of 2017 released by the world-renowned shipping consultancy Alphaliner, the container throughput of the Port of Zhuhai grew by 37.3% to 2.27 million TEU, ranking 73rd in the world and registering the 2nd highest growth rate. Zhuhai Port Holdings attributes the rapid growth of its business to the improving infrastructure.
Official statistics show that Zhuhai’s GDP reached 256.473 billion yuan (USD 37.35 billion) in 2017, up 9.2% from 2016, outracing any other counterparts in Guangdong.
Another critical task for Zhuhai to advance the building of the Greater Bay Area is to strengthen cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao and expand connection with the world.
An increasing number of Hong Kong-and Macao-based financial institutions are coming to Zhuhai. Official data shows that by the end of June 2018, the Hengqin Area of China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone had attracted 144 financial companies from Hong Kong, with a total registered capital of 58.859 billion yuan (USD 8.576 billion) and 18 financial firms from Macao.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by China will be a catalyst for new markets and new ideas around the world, said Thomas J. Sargent, Nobel laureate in Economics and professor at New York University, at the main forum on September 20.
Professor Georgy Toloraya, executive director of the Russian National Committee on BRICS Research and vice president of the Russian Public Diplomacy World Peace Foundation, said that the BRI is not only beneficial to China but also to those countries along the routes. He suggested that the Maritime Silk Road should not confine itself to those countries along the ancient route in South Asia and Southeast Asia, but also extends to the north for the building of a “Polar Silk Road” and common development with Russia’s Far East.
China will create extensive opportunities for the Latin American and the Caribbean countries as it keeps opening up itself to the world, said Heraldo Laura Gonzalez, executive editor-in-chief of Mexico Reforma, adding that his newspaper is willing to help Guangdong-based companies to increase cooperation with Mexico.
Thanks to the glue of cultural exchanges, the BRI, through communication between governments and mutually beneficial cooperation between companies, combines domestic and foreign companies as a community of shared future and shared interests, so as to realize the dream of win-win cooperation.
No doubt Zhuhai is now given rare opportunities in this historic period as it pursues the growth of the Greater Bay Area and the Maritime Silk Road.
The latest urban planning of Zhuhai shows that the new city map will be centered around the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bridge extension. By promoting an integrated development of the Hengqin New Area, the bonded zone and the Port of Hongwan, a new city center and economic engine covering 46.64 square km will emerge.
What cannot go unnoticed is that Zhuhai, in its so-called “second bid to prosper,” focuses more on collaborative innovation with the rest of the world and interconnectivity with the Maritime Silk Road countries in terms of capital, technology and talents.
Today, strolling in Zhuhai Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone, one would be surprised to find out there are more than 7000 high-tech firms there. In its bid to be a national independent innovative demonstration zone, the development zone has become the main engine of the city’s innovation-driven development by concentrating resources on high-tech industries.
Embarking on a new path of development, Zhuhai will provide more opportunities for the world and while its development has only been made possible through pooling elements of innovation from across the globe, said the experts at the forum, adding that Zhuhai’s favorable ecological environment and huge potential will be critical in attracting global innovative talents.
SOURCE The People’s Government of Zhuhai Municipality