Guangzhou, Provincial Capital of the Southern Chinese Province of Guangdong, has been identified as a core engine for regional development in the master plan of the Greater Bay Area (GBA), the cluster of 11 Cities including Hong Kong & Macau.

It is the most populous city, with 15 million residents. Guangzhou’s gross domestic product grew 6.8 per cent to 2.36 trillion yuan (US$364.4 billion) in 2019, the third-largest in the bay area after Shenzhen and Hong Kong.  Its output exceeded those of Denmark, South Africa and Malaysia, according to World Bank data.

In the first nine months of 2020, the city’s economy further expanded by 1 per cent, while Shenzhen’s rose 2.6 per cent and Hong Kong’s GDP slumped 5.9 per cent, according to official statistics.

Guangzhou focuses on advanced manufacturing, with cars, electronics and petrochemicals as its three-pillar industries. It is home to major Chinese carmaker Guangzhou Automobile Group, as well as tech giant NetEase Inc.

Whereas Hong Kong’s Economic Prosperity can be traced to the 1950s, Guangzhou has served as an important foreign trade port in China for more than 2,000 years. Known as the “millennium capital of business,” the historic port on the Old Maritime Silk Road was once famed for its Chinese tea, silk and ceramics.

The biannual Canton Fair, China’s oldest trade expo held in Guangzhou every spring and autumn since 1957, is a popular bookmark in global trade event calendars. The expo is the largest of its kind in China in terms of scale, variety, distribution of overseas buyers and business turnover.

As highlighted in the 59-page Outline Development Plan of the Greater Bay Area, the Chinese government hopes to transform the city into a global metropolis by leveraging its leading function as a national core city and an integrated gateway city.

Global Transport Hub

The Greater Bay Area master plan envisions Guangzhou as an international transport hub. The Baiyun International Airport started the third phase of expansion in September, which includes a fourth and fifth runway, a third terminal covering 422,000 square metres (4.5 million square feet) and 190 parking aprons. This is expected to be finished in 2022.

The airport aims to carry 120 million passengers annually by 2030 and 140 million by 2045. It recorded 73.38 million of them in 2019.

Guangzhou will also play a key role in China’s 474.1 billion yuan intercity railway projects in the Greater Bay Area. The connectivity programme is intended to cover all cities in the area above county level with 5,700 km of railway tracks by 2035.

The Greater Bay Area Plan The Pearl River Delta in China’s south has grown from an agricultural area in 1980 to Asia’s largest and most populous urban area.

International Commerce Center

The bay area blueprint also prods Guangzhou to further improve its modern financial services regimes, develop a regional private equity trading market, and establish a regional centre for equity and commodity trading.

In September, the Guangzhou city government passed an action plan for the implementation of financial measures to support the development of the bay area. The plan called for the launch of major financial projects and platforms, promoting cross-border trade and investment, financing facilitation and widening access to its financial markets.

New Futures Exchange for Carbon Emissions

The China Securities Regulatory Commission, the nation’s top securities watchdog, formed a working group in October to launch a futures exchange for the trading of carbon-emission credits in Guangzhou.

The exchange, first mooted in 2015, is coming to fruition as part of the development plan for the city to become a pilot zone for green finance reform and innovation in the Greater Bay Area.

It is also an essential part of China’s push for companies to enhance their commitment to the environment, social and governance (ESG) standards and in the longer run, to the nation’s pledge of carbon neutrality by 2060.

Last week, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment released the trial rules for a national carbon emissions trading scheme, which would take effect in February.

Promoting Culinary Culture

The bay area blueprint also called on Guangzhou to promote its unique culinary culture, part of efforts to develop a global culinary capital.

Guangzhou has a reputation as one of the country’s food capitals and is most famous for Cantonese cuisine. As a trading port, Guangzhou had access to many imported foods, spices and ingredients, resulting in the wide variety of dishes.

Guangzhou’s famous dishes include roasted goose, rice noodle rolls, wonton noodles and beef entrails.

Going to restaurants for yum cha or “drinking tea” and eating dim sum bite-sized portions of food ranging from steamed shrimp dumplings to chicken feet is one of the residents’ favourite pastimes and an important part of the city’s history and culture.

Author: Martin Choi
Editor’s note: The article reflects the author’s opinion only, and not necessarily the views of the editorial opinion of Belt & Road News.