Caixin
Apr 22, 2021 04:35 AM
FINANCE

China Sets Up Special Fund to Invest in Greater Bay Area Projects

The Guangdong-Macao Deep Cooperation Zone in Hengqin of Zhuhai will be a priority for support from the NDRC’s special fund.
The Guangdong-Macao Deep Cooperation Zone in Hengqin of Zhuhai will be a priority for support from the NDRC’s special fund.

China’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is throwing more weight behind the massive Greater Bay Area project around South China’s Pearl River delta, setting up a special fund from the central government’s budget for direct investments, the commission said Monday.

The NDRC didn’t disclose the size of the fund to back projects in the nine Chinese mainland cities across the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Aiming to capitalize on the region’s already strong finance, manufacturing and technology capabilities, China is working to build an economic and innovation hub that could eclipse the San Francisco Bay area, Greater New York and Greater Tokyo.

The region includes some of China’s most dynamic cities, home to the country’s manufacturing base and tens of thousands of high-tech companies. The bay area accounts for less than 1% of China’s territory and 4% of its population but generates nearly 10% of the country’s gross domestic product.

The NDRC dedicates special funds to major strategic projects. Since 2012, the commission has allocated 100 million yuan ($15.4 million) of special funds each year to projects in the Western Development strategy. An additional 3.5 billion yuan special fund was set up last year to support projects in the Xiong’an New Area.

The NDRC said priorities for the bay area special fund will be projects in the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Science and Technology Innovation Cooperation Zone in Hetao, a development zone in Shenzhen adjacent to Hong Kong, and the Guangdong-Macao Deep Cooperation Zone in Hengqin, a development zone in Zhuhai.

The special fund will support science and technology innovation platforms with outstanding Hong Kong and Macao elements, nonprofit Hong Kong and Macao youth entrepreneur platforms backed by the government, colleges and universities operated jointly by the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, infrastructure facilities connecting the mainland with Hong Kong and Macao, and significant landmark projects in the region, according to a special fund administration document posted on the NDRC website.

The State Council, China’s cabinet, unveiled a detailed roadmap for development of the Greater Bay Area in February 2019. China Development Bank, the country’s top policy lender, pledged financing of 360 billion yuan to support the project.

Since the announcement of the State Council’s bay area plan, there has been a string of initiatives and announcements as regulators, ministries and local governments push ahead with implementing the plan.

In January 2020, Guangdong province said it planned to set aside 3.1 billion yuan this year for tax subsidies targeting overseas professionals working in the Greater Bay Area in a bid to lure talent from neighboring Hong Kong and Macao.

In 2019, Guangdong province issued 17.5 billion yuan of special purpose bonds for land reserves and infrastructure construction. Last year, the province issued an additional 3.3 billion yuan of special purpose bonds to support construction of an air and rail transport hub in the region.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com)

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