July 1, 2017, will mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, after more than a century of British colonial rule. It comes at a moment when China’s leaders are increasingly promoting Hong Kong’s unique role in advancing the country’s economic development.
Two months ago, Premier Li Keqiang described China’s intention to deepen economic cooperation across the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Bay Area – which Hong Kong analysts have called the Pearl River Delta (PRD) – in order to reinforce its role as a major driver of sustainable development. The region includes Guangdong’s nine key cities – including Guangzhou, Foshan, and Shenzhen – plus Hong Kong and Macau. Last year, the PRD’s population stood at 68 million, and its GDP was $1.3 trillion.