Southern China is experiencing a once-in-a-century transformation. The change will be societal. The transition will be economic. The outcome will forever alter the fortunes of the internationally important, globally connected economic zone. And now, there is a catalyst.
The opening of Hong Kong’s high-speed rail, officially known as the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, marks an exciting turning point in the city’s history. The railway reduces the travel time between Hong Kong and Shenzhen from 50 minutes to 14 minutes while a journey from Hong Kong to Guangzhou will be a 48-minute journey. It is one of the many major infrastructure projects within the strategic development of a Southern China economic powerhouse – the Greater Bay Area.
The Greater Bay Area comprises nine cities in the Guangdong Province and two special administrative regions—Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Huizhou, Zhaoqing, Jiangmen, Hong Kong and Macau.
At present, the area is served by 1,640 km of intra-regional and intercity trains. Upon completion of the ten railway projects currently under construction, the total length of this network will reach 2,370 km. These tracks will connect the Greater Bay Area with the rest of the mainland via the cross-country high-speed railway network. The Hong Kong section of the high-speed rail, along with other infrastructure projects, will therefore open up a plethora of opportunities.
To be clear, the Greater Bay Area is not new. It has always existed as a city cluster geographically. The economic integration of the cities has been going on for at least a decade or two and was previously known as the Greater Pearl River Delta.