In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) initiative, corralling the two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) of Hong Kong and Macao with Guangdong, one of the richest of China’s 34 provinces. While the official government blueprint was due to be unveiled in mid-2018, escalating tensions from the US-China trade war have delayed it indefinitely for fear of courting additional tariffs, leaving all stakeholders in the dark about the Chinese government’s concrete plans for the region.
The sheer potential of the GBA, recognized by the World Bank as the largest mega-city in the world with 67 million residents, is matched only by the Sisyphean task of integrating the different cities and systems, which must happen if ideology is to be translated into impact. Already the moniker ‘Greater Bay Area’ begs comparisons to the original San Francisco Bay Area, today the mecca of tech innovation. Behind the Great Chinese Firewall lie Chinese facsimiles of virtually all the digital accessories of modern life: Tencent as Chinese Facebook, Huawei as Chinese Apple, WeChat as Chinese WhatsApp, Didi as Chinese Uber, and so on.
The region’s progress in healthcare innovation has been startling and the Greater Bay Area seems to possess the same core components as “the original” Bay Area: high-tech IT sectors, electronics hardware capabilities, riotous VC activity, vibrant academic and basic science research, favourable government policy, and a huge market.
This report features exclusive insights from executives, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and leading researchers embedded in the GBA and covers topics such as the Hong Kong biotech ecosystem, Shenzhen’s globally-recognized medtech innovators, emerging trends in cell and gene therapy, the latest in in-vitro diagnostics and much more.
Just as in 1978, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping launched China’s modern-day opening up with the unveiling of ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’, among other things establishing the first Special Economic Zones to spur trade – starting, in fact, with Shenzhen and Zhuhai. Four decades later, we ask the question: is Chinese President Xi’s Greater Bay Area initiative the genesis of a new flagship model, ‘Innovation with Chinese characteristics’, or simply yet another Chinese knock-off of an American model?