The Greater BS Area

From HK Free Press, a look at the Greater Bay Area. It quotes promoters of GBA who aren’t sure what it is they’re backing, and skeptics who don’t really know what it is that won’t work. The reader is none the wiser. This in itself is the story.

Like Belt and Road, GBA is a vague concept – a label mostly applied to existing economic trends or infrastructure projects, and pushed by shoe-shiners as visionary waffle abounding in ‘opportunities’. 

Officially, it is a grand national-level strategic plan for the region around Hong Kong to become a tech/finance/blah-blah ‘powerhouse’ hub-zone. There is probably potential for rationalizing and consolidating functions in the metropolitan area. But no-one is talking about merging the various cities (even just on the Mainland side) or creating a bigger single administrative entity. All we see are small-scale tax and other measures supposedly to help Hongkongers who move over the border to reside or work.

Essentially GBA is a (geographically illiterate) relaunch of the ‘Mainland/Pearl River Delta integration’ buzzword from the 2000s. From Beijing’s point of view, the need to make Hong Kong psychologically and symbolically less separate in terms of identity is now more urgent. Rolling the city into the GBA – a trendy hip-sounding brand a la San Francisco or Tokyo – is a semi-sophisticated attempt to do that. “We are now all Bay Area citizens.”

But historically, Hong Kong’s sole business/economic role has been as a location where you can do things you cannot do on the Mainland. The city’s whole purpose and competitive edge arise from its stark institutional differences from the hinterland.

That’s why international business types say rule of law and a free flow of information are key to Hong Kong’s success. Yet to Beijing, these features threaten national (that is, CCP) security. All the CCP values about Hong Kong is the free flow of capital, so Mainland enterprises and elites can convert their assets into hard currency. The rest can wither.

At most, GBA will be a slogan to try to justify, or distract attention from, the ongoing erosion of Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms. The underlying process will not be about integration so much as conformity.

On a more amusing note – a nice pithy turn of phrase…

More here.

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6 Responses to The Greater BS Area

  1. Not Not Reactor #4 says:

    The Mainland authorities know that so-called economic initiatives such as “Greater Bay Area”, “Pearl River Delta”, “Belt-and-Road”, “Maritime Silk Road” etc. are total bullshit.

    They introduce them simply because they know that it will trigger a small number of people down here in Hong Kong (summat to do with “Dog Pavlova”).

    It never fails. Most amusing.

  2. Hamantha says:

    Great article on the Greater Bay Area today, Hemlock.

    After reading your daily articles, it’s really had to go back to reading the pap on display at the South China Morning Post, the Standard, and other local English-language newspapers.

    Also, it seems like Dr. Alicia Garcia Herrero has a great read on the local economy. I wonder what she would say about the seeming refusal of price drops for first-hand or second-hand apartments?

  3. Bay City troller says:

    Whenever they try to pimp the Greater Bay Area (a nightly occurrence on CCTVB News) I always think “with sea levels going up, the Bay Area is definitely going to get Greater.

    Good thing Hong Kong doesn’t rely heavily on reclaimed land, has huge coastal barriers to prevent flooding, a competent government and isn’t relying on predictions that relied on the old coastal DEM models that make the coast look 2-4 metres higher than it really is because it didn’t take trees into account.

    Oh. Well perhaps we should all set to practicing our swimming. After all, “I’m not as strong a swimmer as I used to be,” Emo Philips used to quip. “Thanks to evolution.”

  4. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    The Greater Shenzhen Economic Zone is alive and …err…well?

    I, for one, will withhold commentary on the Great Bare Arse (GBA) until I read the upcoming book-length paean to Emperor Xi the Pooh’s crisis management skills — “A Battle Against Epidemic: China Combating Covid-19 in 2020” (also to be published in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic).

    According to the NY Times, (link below), Emperor For Life Pooh “handled the (WuFlu) disaster with unflappable confidence, proving himself to be not only ‘the guiding light of China and the backbone of 1.4 billion Chinese,’ but also a ‘calming balm’ for a world whose nerves had been jangled by the outbreak.” Oh gawd.

    Now he’s a “calming balm”? More like a falling bomb, and the effects will be felt here in Hongkers as the “stability maintenance” (維穩) machine tries to tighten control over the city.

    Which is what Hemlock wrote: “The underlying process will not be about integration so much as conformity.”

    NY Times article:

  5. Stanley Lieber says:

    “All the CCP values about Hong Kong is the free flow of capital, so Mainland enterprises and elites can convert their assets into hard currency. ”

    Everything else is noise.

  6. WuFlu says:

    Belt and Road = Sick Road

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