The Chinese government is launching a Greater Pearl River Delta zone. Encompassing nine southern provinces plus Hong Kong and Macau (‘9+2’), it is ‘a vision that will deepen economic, social, technological and infrastructure integration’. The South China Morning Post’s report describes many, many sorts of cooperation and integration, and stability and prosperity, and of course creative industries and HK as an offshore Yuan-hub. Intriguingly, the concept includes a proposal to
‘integrate the various disparate local provincial economies to create a common market, with common market standards and principles.’
Which makes you wonder where Guangdong, Fujian, Guangxi, etc have all been since 1949 – running their own splittist trade regimes? (Answer: yes – one of those curious features of the centralized/unitary but silo-ized state.)
Even more shocking, the SCMP story does not once mention ‘One Belt, One Road’, the buzz-phrase that everyone must repeat endlessly even though they have no idea what it means.
To our intense relief, the State Council’s own press release does refer to the Great ‘Belt and Road’ Thing. For good measure, it throws in the ‘Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor’ – a hub-zone that will be new to many, not least the peoples and leaders of Bangladesh, India and Myanmar. To add to the sense of limitless possibilities, it also promises to protect regional water resources and control air pollution.
Deep in my darkest, innermost synapses something stirs. That ‘9+2’ – southern provinces plus Hong Kong and Macau cooperation/partnership/blah-blah stuff. Did I hear it before somewhere? Or is it one of those strange déjà vu dreams?
It takes some rummaging around (Google finds the ‘+’ sign a bit challenging) but I wasn’t imagining it. The Pan-Pearl River Delta Regional Cooperation Doo-Dah Thing, or ‘9+2’ for short, was signed in June 2004 (more here if you’re desperate).
Further on-line archaeological excavation digs up Better HK Foundation director George Yuen later in 2004 blathering on about the initiative as ‘an innovative development framework that will have long-lasting impacts on China and its people’. And, ominously, Hong Kong having ‘greater reliance on the economic development in the mainland’. (We also learn that Guangxi, Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan ‘are rich in natural resources, people, minority groups, water and mineral resources’. Maybe it should read ‘…natural resources, such as people, minority groups, water…’ Anyway – then as now, a wealth of opportunities.)
Far more recently, 18 months ago, Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung and sidekick Carrie Lam attended the 10th ‘9+2’ gathering.
So China’s leaders, in their dotage – the black hair dye having seeped into the craniums and depleted the brain cells so badly – have forgotten that they had already launched ‘9+2’ 12 years back, and are announcing the formation of the Regional Cooperation/Partnership Forum Framework Initiative Hub Zone for a second time. Sad. It happened to an old aunt of mine, who had to go into a home.
Meanwhile, on a not-unrelated matter… A Beijing official gets hyper-touchy about Moody’s warning of Hong Kong’s over-exposure to the perils of the Mainland.