Lee Kwan Ho, a deputy to the National People's Congress from Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (COURTESY PHOTO)
During this year's Two Sessions, Lee Kwan Ho, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) from Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and a former director of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, focuses on a revamp of the transportation system in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). "I propose to add helipads to the existing seaports connecting Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao," he told Beijing Review.
The GBA comprises the two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao, as well as Guangdong Province's nine municipalities. "There are many factors which are needed to turn the GBA into a success. One of the most important components is transportation. The efficient movement of people and goods within the area, according to Lee.
Today, the land transportation network connecting GBA cities is swiftly improving, diverting many a waterway passenger. But it remains a far cry from efficient or sufficient. Under normal circumstances, road or waterway transport from Shenzhen to Hong Kong takes 90 minutes, whereas helicopter transportation is scheduled to cut travel time down to a mere 15 minutes. Many now demand regular low-altitude helicopter flights around the GBA.
"Given GBA development, this would constitute a huge market as it bears advantages in, for example, emergency rescue, tourism and commercial requirements," Lee said. The formation of a low-altitude transportation network could help lay the foundations for the area's general aviation industry.
However, apart from Shenzhen Airport and one site in Guangzhou, we have no helicopter ports of entry or departure with border control. This heavily restricts the number of flights from Hong Kong and Macao to various GBA cities, Lee said.
Adding helipads to the existing international seaports along the shores requires practically no capital expenditure as the pads are relatively inexpensive and there is no need to deploy more customs and immigration officers as they're already stationed at those ports, Lee explained. He further added how all the "9+2" cities have their own merits, saying the HKSAR should actively participate in GBA expansion and further integrate itself into national progress.
"Hong Kong should play out its advantages as an international financial center, and provide talents and services to boost the GBA," he said.
In 1997, China resumed its sovereignty over Hong Kong, which had been under British colonial rule since the mid-19th century. Today, 36 deputies represent its over 7.5 million residents at the NPC, the country's highest organ of state power.
Lee criticized various Western politicians and media outlets for their biased views on HKSAR-related issues, for example, local police actions against social violence. He called on all Hong Kong residents, in particular its young adults, to see the facts and not be provoked.
Hong Kong's national security law, which took effect in June 2020, and the region's improved electoral system have strengthened its security and stability. The principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong" and a stable environment can help improve the region's economy and business, according to Lee.
He also thanked the mainland for its timely assistance as Hong Kong grapples with its fifth and worst COVID-19 wave to date. Together, we shall overcome the pandemic, he concluded.
Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon
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