China Trek 3 | Hengqin

Alicia Lirola Rodriguez and Karol Bernal (both EMBA 2022) write about day 3 of the China Trek, a week-long journey through China, organised by members of our EMBA 2022 cohort.

Hengqin Guangdong-Macao Deep Cooperation Zone

Venturing beyond the confines of Hong Kong, our journey takes us across the expansive Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macau Bridge, a marvel of modern engineering spanning 55 kilometres. As we cross the bridge, navigating customs with ease, we are greeted by the promise of new horizons and boundless opportunities on the mainland.

Hengqin holds a unique status, with the Chinese government prioritising its development. It’s widely recognised as ‘the special economic zone’ in China with expectations that someday it might become the next super city, akin to Shenzhen. This seems likely with its ambitious plans to attract 300,000 people from Macao by 2035.

During our whistlestop tour to Hengqin, we were able to visit 5 key organisations in the new city:

  • Huafa Cross-border E-commerce Industrial Park: 华发跨境电商产业园
  • Novotown: 创新方
  • Hengqin International Science and Technology Innovation Centre: 横琴国际科技创新中心
  • Hengqin Smart City Showroom: 横琴智慧城市展厅  
  • Hengqin Guangdong-Macao Deep Cooperation Zone Planning Exhibition Hall: 横琴粤澳深度合作区规划展示厅
International Science and Technology Innovation Centre

In Hengqin, we learned in-situ the differences between a market-based economy and a centrally planned and interventionist economy.

The Guangdong-Macao In-Depth Cooperation Zone has developed into a cosmopolitan city that provides a well-diversified offering of offices, conventions and exhibition venues, leisure opportunities and residential space aiming to welcome entrepreneurs, enterprises and tourists who would like to establish their businesses within the area to take advantage of the fiscal incentives, reduced registration administrative burden and easy access to state-of-the-art technology, infrastructure and logistics.

For a Western mind, it was very impressive to see this display of investment, assuming the risks that entails. In the West, we are used to seeing firstly the market growing new business opportunities, isolated innovations, and more granular initiatives. Then, governments implement policies and regulations based on the benefits for society.

In Hengqin, we saw the opposite: a well-planned strategy to build an organised structure that integrates all the factors that a new city requires. At the same time, this approach develops an area of the country that has much to offer the world. This development model takes advantage of the well-known enclaves of Macao and Hong Kong to provide an international gateway into mainland China and to boost the initiative of attracting further development and investment opportunities. Moreover, the strategic alliances with South America, and other international markets, that we observed also give a flavour of partnership with developing countries that have the human resources to contribute to creating a better environment and world.

Hengqin Guangdong-Macao Deep Cooperation Zone Planning Exhibition Hall

Three different organisations were the most impactful for me:

  • Huafa Cross-border E-commerce Industrial Park, “华发跨境电商产业园”, which offers spaces for live streaming e-commerce for influencers pioneering the future of retail.
  • Novotown is a touristic and entertaining development organised around three futuristic buildings providing office space, residential areas and hospitality.
  • The Hengqin International Science and Technology Innovation Centre, “横琴国际科技创新中心“, an organisation ready to host the outcome of the bilateral agreements for collaboration between China, the Caribbean and South American countries.

This strategic approach may serve as a model for how certain countries could tackle development and improvements to achieve the desired objectives in any technological or business idea, not only at societal but also at company level.

Join us in our next blog as we journey through the Greater Bay Area to Shenzhen, China’s Silicon Valley, where innovation knows no bounds and the future is limited only by our imagination.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.