The Hengqin Port officially started to provide 24-hour customs clearance service on December 18, 2014. (Photo provided by the Administrative Committee of Hengqin New Area)
BEIJING, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- In Chinese mythology, the seventh daughter of the Jade Emperor was infatuated with earthly beauty. One day, after taking a bath by the coast, she began to sing and dance on the tides while playing qin, a traditional musical instrument. Coincidentally, a young fisherman was returning to coast after fishing. They saw each other and fell in love. When departing, the fairy gave him two qins, one big and one small. Immediately afterwards, the waves began to soar and upon contact with water the two qins turned into two islands: Da (big) Hengqin and Xiao (small) Hengqin.
Located in the south of Zhuhai, Hengqin is separated from Macao by only a strip of water. As time goes by, the once remote islet has become a frontier for China’s opening-up to the world. Arriving in Hengqin New Area, one can see clean and tidy roads with flourishing green belts, along with cars with Macao license plates galloping at high speed. After the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is put into use, Hengqin will become the only national-level new area and pilot free trade zone in China that links Hong Kong and Macao with a bridge.
With the advancement of the Belt and Road Initiative, Hengqin is set to shape into a portal for high-level opening-up initiatives. With its unique geographic positioning and favorable business environment, this land, although only a little larger than 100 square kilometers, will usher in unprecedented development opportunities.
“Enterprises in Latin America are very optimistic about the Chinese market. The China-Latin America Economic and Trade Cooperation Park will serve as a good platform for enterprises. A series of preferential policies will further attract enterprises to settle here,” said Lin Mu, Assistant President of Zhuhai Dahengqin Co., Ltd. Mexican Chamber of Commerce, Tencent, Hong Kong Cyberport and Zhonglian Latin America Information Technology Company have expressed their intention to operate business in this area. Moreover, Markerspace, the headquarters of overseas branches of Power Construction Corporation of China, the Academician Workstation, and BIM research center would also settle in the park, Lin Mu added.
The China-Latin America Economic and Trade Cooperation Park is an important platform for cooperation between the two markets. With an investment of 2.5 billion yuan and covering an area of 87,000 square meters, the park features facilities including an industrial park, R&D buildings, high end apartments, supporting facilities and an exhibition center.
Being adjacent to Macao, which has close ties with Portuguese-speaking countries, and relying on Hengqin New Area, Zhuhai is working closely with Macao to build an economic and trading platform for Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking countries. Besides the China-Latin America Economic and Trade Cooperation Park, China-Latin America Cross-Border Integrated Service Platform and Latin America Integrated Bonded Warehouse and Logistics Program are also progressing well.
Meanwhile, there have been breakthroughs in cooperation between Hengqin and countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. For example, Traditional Chinese Medicine Science and Technology Industrial Park of Cooperation between Guangdong and Macao have invited Intertek, an internationally renowned quality assessment company, to settle in the park. It also has established cooperation with many healthcare organizations in Portuguese-speaking countries, and helps enterprises explore overseas markets and resources. In addition, SAIC has set a Trademark Registration Service Center in Hengqin for trademark applications under the Belt and Road Initiative.
So far, more than 80 enterprises have submitted their outbound investment applications in Hengqin, totaling 3.62 billion U.S. dollars, with countries and regions along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road as their investment destinations, such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand, and their business area mainly involving the services industry.
Moreover, Hengqin is committed to building an international, law-based and convenient business environment in a bid to improve the level of opening-up.
In September 2015, a young man named Zhou Yunxian from Macao came to Inno Valley HQ with eight employees for setting up his cross-border e-commerce program. In just one year, the number of his employees has grown to more than 100. In addition, he has successfully raised millions of yuan.
“Only in Hengqing there are such chances. Without the excellent environment for startups and support from Zhuhai for technologies and talents, the company would not have achieved such rapid and large-scale development,” said Ye Disi, an engineer at the company.
Many startup owners from Hong Kong and Macao think that Hengqin’s liberal business environment and preferential tax policy are very attractive.
As a frontier for new round of reform and opening-up, Hengqin has several policy advantages that are less likely to be duplicated in other areas. Besides being included in Zhuhai Special Economic Zone, it is the demonstration area that explores new Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao cooperation model under the “one country, two system” policy, and is also a part of Guangdong Pilot Free Trade Zone.
“Seeking reform and innovation, Hengqin New Area has embarked on a road to institutional innovation featuring a fusion of the characteristics of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao since its establishment in 2009,” said Wang Yan, deputy director of the Policy, Law and Regulation Office of Zhuhai Hengqin New Area Administrative Committee.
In terms of government service, Hengqin has taken the lead in reforming its commercial registration system by referring to the business registration system in Hong Kong and Macao. In terms of capital access in Hengqin, progress has been made in improving accessibility to foreign investment. A list of areas inaccessible to foreign investment in the Free Trade Zone has been put into place. The enterprises that are registered in Hengqin only need to file their outbound investment at the commerce department within Hengqin if they want to invest overseas.
The convenience in tax payment is also an important measurement of investment and business environment.
In September 2016, V-TAX, China's first remote and self-service tax payment system in a visualized way, was made available to public, which brought a brand-new intelligent tax payment experience. Some people describe it as “paying tax like a video chat”.
“The overseas taxpayers can log onto V-TAX system via computers or mobile phones to process tax-related transactions. As long as there is internet, V-TAX can facilitate tax payment that crosses borders between countries, provinces, cities and districts,” said Li Xiyan, director of Hengqin Local Tax Bureau.
Moreover, Hengqin New Area has released nine measures in three categories in the Tax Convenience Program under the Belt and Road Initiative. On one hand, enterprises that go global will have more convenient access to international preferential tax policies, while on the other, foreign investment enterprises that have settled in Hengqin will be assisted when faced with tax policies, mitigating risks related to uncertainties in taxation.
The reform and innovation measures in Hengqin aim at increasing the gains of enterprises and have been widely acclaimed. Hengqin has received the “Award for Best Investment Environment” and the “Award for Highest Investment Potential”, which have stirred a craze among investors.
So far, the number of registered enterprises in Hengqin Free Trade Zone has exceeded 40,000, in which 42 enterprises are among the world’s top 500, 69 are among China’s top 500, and over 1,000 are headquarters of domestic and international enterprises. In addition, nearly 100 projects with a total investment of over 350 billion yuan are under construction in Hengqin.
In order to celebrate the establishment of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, Zhuhai has promulgated the Reform and Development Implementation Plan for the Integration of Hengqin, Bonded Zone and Hongwan District. Furthermore, Hengqin plans to consolidate its economic functions of “bonded area + crossborder transactions + customs clearance + port operations + logistics”, which will form an overlapping effect covering Daqiao Economic Zone, Free Trade Zone, New Area and Special Customs Area. Hengqin will undertake the functions of international trade, warehousing and logistics, and advanced equipment manufacturing. After 5 to 10 years of hard work, the integrated area will grow into a new center of Zhuhai that gathers CBD headquarters. Looking forward, Hengqin, as a key spot on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, will definitely attract more resources and create wonders in the country’s openingup drive. (Reporter: Wang Huyun)