Greater Bay Geek | #ChinaTech #StartUps with Tony Verb

“China’s Pearl River delta is the site of the most dramatic urbanization in human history. The area is home to nearly 70 million people. It contributes an eighth of China’s GDP, with an economy worth $1.5 trillion – roughly the same as Australia and Spain, and nearly as big as Russia and South Korea.

“Now the Chinese government has outlined its plans to unite what it calls the Greater Bay Area into a giant megalopolis, and transform it into a high-tech centre that could rival California’s Silicon Valley and Japan’s Tokyo Bay.” (Source: WEF)

Our speaker is Tony Verb. Tony is a serial entrepreneur, urban innovator, venture capitalist and film producer, based in Hong Kong.

He’s the founder of GreaterBay Ventures & Advisors, an integrated investment and consulting firm, specialised on cross-border innovation and smart cities. Tony is committed to accelerate the growth of technology companies that positively impact urbanisation under the thesis he coins as “Urban Tech with Impact”. The Greater Bay Area of South China, Hong Kong and Macau is the the biggest megacity on the planet and he sees the region as the best place to facilitate and scale the adaptation of urban tech best practices globally. 

Tony launched several initiatives and contributes to different verticals and communities locally and globally, with experience in corporate innovation, accelerator programmes and ecosystem building as partner of and co-founder of Mettā, an entrepreneur club. 

In his spare time, Tony contributes to philanthropic initiatives, creative projects and studies quantum physics. He is a proud member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers community and a Greater Bay Area Investment Committee Vice Chair under the Smart City Consortium of Hong Kong.

China has US$17 Trillion to Manage Economic Shocks

China has assets and cash totaling US$17.41 trillion to support state-led actions to minimise risk and maintain economic order according to CASS, a leading China-based think tank. The assessment comes after China’s Central Economic Work Conference held in mid-December 2018 held in Beijing’s Jingxi Hotel.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) is the premier academic organization and comprehensive research center of the People’s Republic of China in the fields of philosophy and social sciences.

“The government has accumulated lots of assets during the economic catch-up” over the past 40 years, “which allows us to handle risk with confidence.” – Zhang Xiaojing, Research Team, CASS – The South China Morning Post

Despite these riches, the government stressed there would not be major economic stimuli, such as used during the 2009 financial crisis, according to China Economic Review. This is despite a “complicated and grim external environment” brought on by a deepening trade war with the US that threatens to decrease China’s predicted growth of 6%+/- y/y.

The end-of-conference press release gave a broad list of areas where the government wants demand to pick up including infrastructure on industrial networks, transportation and logistics, and upgrades to manufacturing equipment. 

The meeting was held in Beijing’s Jingxi Hotel that is used only by top party officials for government business. “Ordinary travelers have never been allowed past the 48-year-old hotel’s drab, Soviet-style exterior. The heavily guarded Jingxi is where the Communist Party elite meet behind closed doors to hammer out high-stakes personnel decisions or to map out future policies.” Learn more about this secretive venue in this profile article.

Making Land for 1.1 Million People in Hong Kong

Chief Executive Carrie Lam delivered her second policy address for Hong Kong yesterday. Among the most ambitious initiatives is a plan to create new islands to house 1.1 million people. The 1,700 hectares (or 4,200 acres) will cover 17 square kilometres  and will rise from the seabed in an area east of Lantau Island (home to Hong Kong International Airport and Disneyland). The project will cost HK$500 billion dollars (US$63 billion) which is 50% of the current reserves in government coffers. (Yes, Virginia, countries can run surpluses!)

Homes from the seabed in Hong Kong.

Called “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” the details of the plan can be accessed here.

Lantau Island is already being transformed by the soon-to-be-opened bridge linking Hong Kong with Macau and Zhuhai, China. This 39 kilometre (24 mile) over-sea crossing opens is one of the longest bridges in the world. (Learn all the facts on Wikipedia here.) It was developed to expedite integration of the Greater Bay Area – a commerce and technology corridor that is home to 68 million people.

One of the world’s longest bridges spans three countries

Also recently opened is the Hong Kong link to China’s high-speed rail network. The High Speed Rail connects Hong Kong West Kowloon Station with 44 Mainland China rail stations without interchange. That means you can leave Hong Kong at night and wake the next morning in Hangzhou, Shanghai, or Beijing. Since opening in late September an average of 46,000 people per day have crossed into Hong Kong via the new rail service. During recent “Golden Week” holidays visitor numbers to Hong Kong increased 20% from last year – with no major spike at other crossings.

From Hong Kong to 44 cities in China direct

The “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” is another demonstration of the mass-scale planning necessary to secure Hong Kong’s future in rapidly developing Southern China. The land reclamation and other land alternatives will be the focus of the November event at Asia Insight Circle featuring Paul Zimmerman.

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