Around 8 a.m. on workdays, Cheong, a resident of Macau, spends less than a minute crossing the border to Zhuhai in neighboring Guangdong Province via Qingmao Checkpoint, the fifth land port connecting the Administrative Region. (SAR) from Macao to mainland China.
With streamlined customs clearance procedures, the port, which was opened in September 2021 and operates 24 hours a day, has 50 inbound automated channels for passenger clearance services and 50 outbound automated channels, with two staffed counters operating in each direction.
Almost at the same time, Macau resident Ho Kok Tou drives to work at an information technology company on Zhuhai’s Hengqin Island, which is adjacent to Macau.
Currently, more than 2,000 Macau-licensed vehicles pass through the Hengqin checkpoint every day thanks to the policy allowing Macau-licensed vehicles to cross the border since late 2016.
Since 2017, when the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Development Framework Agreement was signed, connectivity has been continuously improved to help Macao better integrate into the overall development of the country.
In September last year, the Chinese central authorities released a plan for building the Guangdong-Macao Deep Cooperation Zone in Hengqin, making the island an important new growth point for Macao’s economy.
Sheng Li, associate dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Macau, told Xinhua that infrastructure connectivity, mainly represented by modern comprehensive transport systems, is vital for regional integration and development in the region. resource-rich Great Bay region.
In March 2021, construction was started to extend the Macau Light Rail Line to Hengqin. It is planned to operate as a shuttle between the two sides when completed in 2025. Research is also underway to connect Macau to Hengqin by waterway.
In Hengqin, several bridges and underwater tunnels are under construction to better connect the island to other parts of Zhuhai, including its airport.
Meanwhile, Macau has also been working to improve its “soft connectivity” with Guangdong in terms of investment, trade, personnel flow and customs clearance.
A new project has been launched in Hengqin to provide residential and commercial units as well as support facilities for residents of Macau, with their educational, medical and community services all connected to those in Macau.
An online platform was also launched to settle cross-border arbitration cases under the new model of mutual discussion, joint construction, joint administration and benefit-sharing between arbitration institutions in Macau and Guangdong. .
“The connectivity of rules and mechanisms ensures market integration and efficient flow of other key elements in the Greater Bay Area,” Sheng said. “Macau’s effort to explore the ‘greatest common divisor’ of ‘soft connectivity’ under different systems may provide a useful reference for linking different market mechanisms.”
Ho Iat Seng, director general of Macao SAR, said in the policy speech for the fiscal year 2022 that the Macao SAR government will speed up the development of key policies to support the construction of the cooperation zone in Hengqin. , including special measures to ease market access in the zone, as well as a list of the first batch of permitted items and encouraged industries.
The SAR government will also actively participate in building the legal system in the cooperation area, deepening law and justice exchanges and cooperation with Guangdong, and improving the dispute settlement mechanism, Xi said. Whoa.
Ip Kuai Peng, pro-rector of the City University of Macau, said the construction of the cooperation zone is the top priority for Macau to participate in the construction of the Greater Bay Area and promote connectivity in the region. .
Ip said connectivity means improving Macao’s accessibility and promoting institutional innovations to facilitate policy coordination and linking of plans in law, science and technology, finance, business and livelihoods of people in the Greater Bay Area.