-- A new port linking the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai and Macao opened to traffic on Tuesday, a new step to boost development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
-- Chinese authorities in February 2019 unveiled the development outline for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, aiming to build the region into a role model of high-quality development.
-- The new Hengqin Port has a designed daily capacity of 222,000 passengers, which can help ease the pressure of Gongbei Port and increase the daily capacity for passenger flow between Guangdong and Macao.
A new port to facilitate travel between Macao and Zhuhai, south China's Guangdong Province, was officially put into use Tuesday, a new step to boost development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
Dubbed a "super passage," the main working area of the Hengqin port has a total floor area of 450,000 square meters, equivalent to 63 football fields. It has a designed daily capacity of 222,000 passengers, which can help ease the pressure of Gongbei Port and increase the daily capacity for passenger flow between Guangdong and Macao.
Aerial photo taken on Aug. 18, 2020 shows the Hengqin Port. (Xinhua/Deng Hua)
Gongbei Port has long been the main passenger channel between Zhuhai and Macao. In 2019, the port saw a total of 145 million passengers, ranking first in China for eight consecutive years.
However, the Gongbei Port has been running far beyond its designed capacity, thus resulting in a series of problems such as prolonged queuing time and slow customs clearance procedures.
As a flagship project of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Hengqin Port significantly simplified clearance procedures.
"The opening of the new port will further enhance interconnectivity of Guangdong and Macao, provide more convenient, fast and considerate services for personnel, economic and trade exchanges, inject new impetus into the development of Hengqin New Area, and lay a solid foundation for deepening the Guangdong-Macao cooperation and advancing the building of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area," said Ma Xingrui, governor of Guangdong.
A police officer from Macao Special Administrative Region introduces the joint automated inspection channels to reporters at Hengqin Port on Aug. 18, 2020. (Xinhua/Cheong Kam Ka)
The port has adopted a brand-new working pattern between Guangdong and Macao, further enriching the connotation of "one country, two systems," according to Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) Ho Iat Seng.
The staff of the two sides work in the same office building and share the same equipment. The unprecedented management and construction model is new for Guangdong and Macao, he said.
Chinese authorities in February 2019 unveiled the development outline for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, aiming to build the region into a role model of high-quality development. The Greater Bay Area consists of Hong Kong, Macao and nine cities of Guangdong Province.
At around 3 p.m. Tuesday, a Macao resident surnamed Ieong became the first person to go through the self-checking passage at the new Hengqin port to enter Zhuhai. The process took her just 26 seconds.
"It's very convenient as I only need to use my ID once when crossing the port," Ieong said, adding that she was very excited to be the first person to make the crossing.
A Macao citizen passes through the automated inspection channels to enter Zhuhai at the new passenger inspection area of Hengqin Port on Aug. 18, 2020. (Xinhua/Deng Hua)
Previously, the Hengqin checkpoint in Zhuhai and the Lotus checkpoint in Macao were designed as separate customs clearance channels, which was inconvenient for travelers.
The new Hengqin Port adopts a "joint inspection and one-time release" customs-clearance mode.
According to official data, the number of Macao residents holding Zhuhai residence permits exceeds 50,000, and the total number of people who live in Zhuhai and work in Macao is more than 60,000. The new Hengqin Port's convenient inspection procedures are expected to increase the volume of travel.
Passengers pose for photos at Macao's border checkpoint at Hengqin Port on Aug. 18, 2020. (Xinhua/Cheong Kam Ka)
In the first seven months of this year, the number of Macao-funded enterprises registered in Hengqin was more than double that for the same period last year.
Liu Guangqian, who works at the Hengqin Port, has witnessed the changing relationship between Zhuhai and Macao.
"Tourists and laborers employed in Macao used to take up the bulk of crossings at this port. Now, there are more businessmen, workers and students crossing," he said.