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Hong Kong to get joint tech labs with Guangdong and Macau in 2019

According to a recent report, China’s Guangdong province will team up with Hong Kong and Macau this year on building joint laboratories to study cutting-edge technologies needed by local industries, according to an annual government report delivered by the provincial governor.

Guangdong’s governor said the province had chosen the development of the “Greater Bay Area” – a plan to create an international innovation and technology hub in partnership with Hong Kong and Macau – as its primary priority for this year.

Some of the main moves to promote the development of the GBA will include joint labs as well as greater transport connectivity. This will be achieved via the promotion of a “co-location” – a controversial arrangement by which immigration and customs checks between Guangdong and Hong Kong have been located away from their border to allow smoother processing.

While a rail station located in Hong Kong that employed the arrangement previously was heavily criticised over concerns that it overstepped local laws, the governor did not specify whether he intended to push for new transport terminals using the set-up or whether he would be promoting the existing ones.

The governor noted that arrangements for co-location immigration and customs checks, one-off checks through the collaboration of authorities from both sides, as well as one-stop checking services, will be implemented on a wider scope.

Speaking in Guangzhou at an annual meeting of the provincial people’s congress, Guangdong’s top law-making body, the governor noted that the bay area project would be at the core of the province’s economic development plan. He said it was an “opportunity of historic significance” in the face of slowing growth for the region amid domestic complexities and external shocks.

In total, the governor laid out 10 priorities for the year.

Herein, a technology and innovation corridor connecting Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau will be jointly developed.

The Governor noted that this batch of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau joint labs is necessary to enable the study and development of the latest and most cutting-edge technologies for industries.

Hong Kong and Macau will see more laboratory facilities being opened and shared. Moreover, large scientific research devices and research data will be approved.

In addition, this year will see the construction of the Liantang-Heung Yuen Wai boundary checkpoint between Hong Kong and Shenzhen completed.

The development of a new border port linking Zhuhai and Macau would be expedited as well.

The governor did not specify whether the checkpoints would use co-location. However, a Hong Kong deputy to the national legislature said the governor was not talking of more such checkpoints for the city.

The deputy noted that co-location of checkpoints is needed in foreign countries, and between Hong Kong and the mainland when there’s an actual need; the need for other applications in the city now could not be identified.

Another local deputy to the National People’s Congress noted that both Hong Kong and Guangdong would benefit from more integration and cooperation, adding that Beijing has repeatedly made clear that innovation and technology will be the direction of Greater Bay Area development.

The former chairman of City University’s governing council said this would involve more cooperation between Hong Kong and Guangdong universities and other tertiary education institutions.

It was also noted that the governor’s push to boost transport infrastructure and connectivity would improve the flow of goods and capital.

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