The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is one of China’s two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) the other being neighbouring Macau. Comprised of over 260 islands, Hong Kong is located on the eastern side of the Pearl River Delta (PRD), and has an estimated population of just over 7 million. The surrounding PRD region, made up of nine separate municipalities located within the borders of Guangdong province, has a population of close to 48 million and is the manufacturing powerhouse of China. The Greater PRD, driven by Hong Kong, is widely tipped to become one of the most dynamic business regions in the 21st century.
Hong Kong’s emergence after the recession as one of the three most important financial centres in the world is inextricably linked to its favourable relationship with mainland China, whose government remains a strong advocate for its development as a world city. In striving to be world-class, Hong Kong’s world city positioning has a strong regional dimension, branded as a gateway to Mainland China and offering a secure location for financial services in immediate proximity to China’s manufacturing capability. Hong Kong’s highly developed services sector is driven by unswerving free market principles, a low tax burden, high quality business services and a policy of non-interventionist government. The city-state’s status is further enhanced by impressive transport infrastructure and openness to highly-skilled international immigrants.
Moving forwards, the Hong Kong administration sees large scale urban infrastructure as a way of both maintaining world-class status and driving local socio-economic development. The city faces a number of major challenges, including a lack of space which is driving up land and real estate prices, a high cost of living, shortages of skilled labour, poor air quality, high levels of income inequality and an ageing population. Hong Kong’s claim to be ‘Asia’s world city’ may also be challenged by the emergence of Shanghai and Singapore.
In the Hong Kong 2030 Plan, a core set of ideas about the future of the city is set out: “Hong Kong already possesses many of the key features common to New York and London. For example, we are already an international centre of finance and a popular tourist destination and hold leading positions in trade and transportation. These are all pillars of our economy. If we can consolidate our existing economic pillars and continue to build on our strengths, we should be able to become world-class. Then like New York and London, we will play a pivotal role in the global economy, be home to a host of multi-national companies, and provide services to the entire region….We have the thriving Mainland next to us. We are a melting pot for Chinese and Western cultures. We are a highly liberal and open society. Our institutions are well established. With such a strong foundation, we should be able to build on our strengths and develop modern and knowledge-intensive industries, erect new pillars in our economy and open up new and better prospects.”
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