Chapter 2
An SCMP original series exploring how cutting-edge infrastructure projects are transforming Hong Kong into a smart, accessible city, and a truly connected global hub for business and leisure travellers to easily reach a host of destinations in China. Join us on a journey into the facts and stories behind these projects.

Chapter 3

Full speed ahead: how new networks are transforming the Greater Bay Area

There are few megalopolises as well-networked as the Greater Bay Area. This area in southern China is working on a host of infrastructure projects that are accelerating connections between the region’s 11 cities, changing the game socially, culturally and economically. Discover why the Greater Bay Area stands out from the crowd, and what makes this high-energy cluster of cities such a fascinating place to work, live and travel.


Just 56,000km2, the Greater Bay Area packs a punch for its size. An integrated economic and business hub around the Pearl River Delta in southern China, its GDP is US$1.5 trillion, and many of China’s tech unicorns call its cities home. Tencent Holdings, for example, is based in Shenzhen, as is WeBank, the digital bank it initiated; so is drone manufacturer DJI, alongside human-machine interface technologies provider Royole, AI and humanoid robotics company UBTECH Robotics. AI facial recognition company CloudWalk Technology is in Guangzhou; consumer electronics company Meizu is in Zhuhai; peer-to-peer lending company Tuadaiwang is in Dongguan; while fintech company Futu Securities, along with e-Shang Redwood, the logistics real estate owner and operator, are in Hong Kong.

The Greater Bay Area in a global context

How it compares with the geographical size, population and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of places around the world.


The Greater Bay Area covers 56,000km² and has a population of 66.7 million.


Great Britain is 242,495km² in size (4 times bigger than Greater Bay Area) with a similar population of 61.81 million.


Australia is 7.69 million km² (153 times bigger than Greater Bay Area) and home to 24.89 million people (3 times less people).

GDP in a global context

Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing in Guangdong Province: these are the 11 cities that make up the Greater Bay Area. With the arrival of the HZMB, these cities - and the unicorns that are headquartered here - are within easy reach of each other.

As well as connecting Hong Kong with Zhuhai and Macau, the HZMB connects with three major expressways, namely the Jing-Zhu Expressway, the Guang-Zhu West Expressway and the Jiang-Zhu Expressway. The result? For those travelling from the western side of the Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong is now highly accessible and a very manageable three hours away, making it an easy weekend getaway for leisure travellers from China, and popping across the bay for one business meeting is now feasible, too.

The 3 major expressways

Other infrastructure projects connecting the Greater Bay Area include the newly opened High Speed Rail, which links Hong Kong with Shenzhen in just 23 minutes, and Hong Kong with Guangzhou South in 48 minutes.

High-speed connections

The newly opened High Speed Rail links Hong Kong with Shenzhen, and Guangzhou South.

The bridges of the Greater Bay Area

Connecting the east and west sides of the Pearl River Delta are various bridges. The Humen Pearl River Bridge and the HZMB are already operational; meanwhile, the Second Humen Bridge is set to complete in 2019, and the Shenzhen-Zhongshan Bridge will wrap up in 2024. These will bring the Greater Bay Area even closer together.

A traveller’s dream

It has been quite a journey taking the HZMB from a tycoon’s dream to a high-tech, multi-destination reality that would have seemed like the stuff of science fiction in the 1980s. Now, three decades on, the opening of the bridge, alongside other regional infrastructure projects, has opened up the area around the Pearl River Delta, significantly simplifying travel between the cities in the area.

The result is a host of tourism opportunities, with vibrant cities like Hong Kong now easily reachable, and many other exciting destinations for regional travellers to explore. It also vastly improves the world’s ability to build connections with the Greater Bay Area, one of the region’s most dynamic, up-and-coming places to live, work and play.

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