What Manila can study: Shenzhen, HK, GBA Next-Stage High-Growth Plan NEW WORLDS

One of the massive economic development programs that will affect our region in the next decades will be the formation of the “Greater Bay Area” or GBA.  It is a planned retransformation of part of the Pearl River Delta region, where, in the “reform and opening-up” vision of Deng Xiaoping, the sleepy fishing village town of Shenzhen with 30,000 people bourgeoned into a city of 15 million and became the “Factory of the World” at a blistering growth rate of some 20 percent a year for decades.

Shenzhen amazingly then continued to retransform itself, becoming the ground for growing not just the biggest and best manufacturers in the world but also some of the most innovative tech developers in the world, such as the gaming giant Tencent, the largest and most advanced telecom equipment supplier Huawei, the world’s largest drone maker DJI, and the robot kit maker Makeblock.  Its 10 largest startups are all valued at over $10 billion. Its GDP of $390 billion in 2019 would make it slightly larger than the Philippines’ $375 billion GDP.

The GBA plan, announced in China in 2016, was to integrate the special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau with nine cities in Guangdong, including Shenzhen, to become a world class city cluster in manufacturing, logistics and technology innovation.

The current combined GDP of the area, at $1.67 trillion in 2019, would make it about 12th as a country, ahead of Mexico and Australia and about on par with South Korea.  It is the general view that Silicon Valley and the United States are still ahead technologically on most fundamental science areas, including for space and military, while China is ahead in 5G and industrial uses, as elucidated by IDSI Senior Fellow Dr. Henry Chan in a webinar attended by policy planners from Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries.

Through coordinated laws and policies, liberalized environment for foreign and local enterprises, and financial and infrastructure support, the intent is to create a system in which each city is able to complement one another and catalyze values in ideas and execution greater than each can achieve individually.

While there are concerns brought up by Western nations as to whether the overall effect would be a liberalizing or restricting one, the continuing and expanding success of the innovations in the Shenzhen experiment can be expected to be something the China government would like to expand.

The quick implementations taking place are evident. Among others, the new Zhuhai Bridge, the longest in the world, is already built; a technology park at Hong Kong’s edge to integrate with Shenzhen has been taking shape, interconnected by high-speed rails; and the Guangdong Free-Trade Zone has been launched — everything to reduce travel time, increase interaction and improve response time — increasing the velocity of ideas being processed.

How to benefit?  The massive developments just beside us will either be a wave of development that we can ride, or yet another one we will miss.  We cannot just wait for some “blessing to be splashed on us,” “ambunan” in Filipino.  China companies have been training, employing, and offering thousands of scholarships and certification processes for Filipino engineers, and more should be applying.  The Chinese government has been trying to develop more investments into the regions through the China International Fair for Investment and Trade or Cifit, and purchase more from countries abroad through the China International Import Expo or CIIE. And our Department of Trade and Industry has been helping facilitate more Filipino MSMEs — micro, small and medium enterprises — to link to similar global platforms.  The US, the European Union, Asean and India, among other countries and regional bodies, coupled with the changing world, offer many opportunities.

We can’t force or demand business; we have to provide value propositions and extenders and, eventually, become indispensable contributors or even creators.  Our entrepreneurs and students have to be more proactive and develop added products and services since the physical and tech platforms are already being provided.

The model of development on live display in the GBA program also shows the importance of urban and digital planning in affecting the mood and energy of creativity.  We need public private partnership in planning and government resources. And we need officials who manage by performance indicators that they are held accountable to.  No sector can do it alone.

Our education should not focus solely on the “academic”. Students don’t need to spend half a million pesos and four years of their life losing incomes to learn things they will never use.  They don’t need another conference on which countries are evil and who is the protector of democracy, when the information is mostly inaccurate and lacking perspective and when there are more productive things to learn and do.  People need to know how to find services and things they can make a decent living out of, how to package, and how to select and run sustainable commercial and personal relationships.  They need to absorb that they are largely responsible for themselves and their community.

While criticisms are important for improving the world, our people should not be directed by our supposed “think tanks and nationalists” to spend 80 percent of their time on criticism and talk when they still have a living to make and when they can achieve much more by cooperating and managing differences along the way.

Decisions should not be made based on immediate circumstances, disputes, elations or emotions, but with more dimensions and longer perspectives.  Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google and (even as) chairman of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence in the US, says in BBC that the right strategy for a US-China relationship is a “rivalry partnership,” where the US needs to be able to “collaborate with China while also competing with them.” He also mentions that the US’s tech supremacy has been built on the back of the international talent — this despite President Donald Trump’s political positioning.

Many people join conferences and read research. Some do understand, but very few apply.  The winning is not in the discussion, but in the doing!  Spend less time on teleserye, whether on TV or in your life, or in social media.  Watch videos for the educational value of things you can use, not just for the inspirational.

Take it from Thomas Edison, who was both a genius and a success, that “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration!”  The same applies for success, or anything in life — as an individual, a family or a country.

George Siy is a Wharton-educated industrialist, international trade practitioner and negotiator, director of the Integrated Development Studies Institute (IDSI). He has advised the Philippines and various organizations in trade negotiations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Japan and the United States.

New Worlds by IDSI aims to present frameworks based on a balance of economic theory, historical realities, ground success in real business and communities, and attempt for common good, culture, and spirituality. We welcome logical feedback and possibly working together with compatible frameworks (idsicenter@gmail.com).

**Also published in: https://www.manilatimes.net/2020/09/27/opinion/columnists/what-manila-can-study-shenzhen-hk-gba-next-stage-high-growth-plan/772676/

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