11 June 2018

Survey Findings on Public Opinion on the Development Plan of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Released by Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at CUHK

The state will soon officially announce the development plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area hereafter). To gauge public views on the development plan, the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) conducted a survey from 17 to 24 May 2018. It was based on similar questions in a survey on the Greater Bay Area conducted in May 2017. 714 respondents aged 18 or above were successfully interviewed, with a response rate of 38.7%. The sampling error was estimated at plus or minus 3.67 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Major findings are summarized as follows:

The survey found that 69.7% of the respondents had heard of the plan, while 30.3% had not. In contrast to the findings of last year, an increase of 9.5 percentage points was found in knowledge of the plan by the respondents. The increase was statistically significant, but all the other views had kept stable after a year.

The purpose of the development plan was to achieve complementary advantage between Hong Kong, Macao and the nine cities in Guangdong. However, when asked if they thought the plan could realise the purpose, 42.4% of the respondents said they were “in-between”, indicating considerable public uncertainty over the idea of the complementary advantages. 33.2% of the respondents agreed it could, while 16.4% disagreed. The findings were not significantly different from those found a year ago. Moreover, the public were uncertain about the possible economic benefits the plan would bring about if Hong Kong joined and the possible loss to Hong Kong if it stayed away. 45.3% of the respondents rated “half-half” the possible economic benefits or losses for Hong Kong joining the plan. 28.2% said there would be benefits, while 12.1% said there would be economic losses to Hong Kong. The findings were similar to those found a year ago.

If Hong Kong stayed away from the plan, could Hong Kong lose in the economic competition against mainland cities? 31.5% of the respondents said “in-between”, exhibiting another uncertain view of the public. 31.5% agreed that Hong Kong could lose, while 22.5% disagreed. No significant difference was found in the response between the two waves of the survey. The survey also asked in what economic areas respondents would like Hong Kong to participate in the Greater Bay Area. The three most popular areas were “finance” (18.4%), “creative industries and innovative technology” (15.9%), and “professional services” (10.0%).

An objective of the plan was to construct a “one-hour living radius” in which one can live in Guangdong cities while commuting to work in Hong Kong. 40.2% of the respondents questioned its feasibility, while 37.7% concurred with the idea.

The three most prominent reasons given by the respondents with negative views of the plan included the following: “insufficient freedom of information” (29.3%), “still inconvenient transportation” (23.0%), and “issues of food safety in mainland cities” (10.1%). The top reasons were similar to those found a year ago. Among those who held positive views, the three most prominent reasons were: “more economic opportunities” (30.9%), “affordable housing price in Guangdong cities” (16.7%), and “larger living spaces” (12.6%). Excluding the 11.2% of the respondents in this survey who mentioned the more convenient transport links, the percentages for all the other reasons were not significantly different from those found a year ago.

The plan was also supposed to bring more career opportunities for Hong Kongers. However, the survey found over half of the respondents thought the advantage to Hong Kongers would be “very little” (41.5%) or “none at all” (14.7%). Close to 30% of the respondents thought the advantage would be “large” (25.1%) or “very large” (3.6%). The remaining 15.1% did not know or felt it hard to tell.

The survey found 64.6% of the respondents had not visited any of the nine Guangdong cities in the past twelve months. 20.2% had visited one or two times and 14.4% had visited three or more times over the past year. The frequency of visiting was not significantly different from that of a year ago.