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  • Three, two, one!

  • That's me onstage receiving a peck from a Beluga whale inside one of China's largest amusement parks.

  • Let me explain.

  • I'm taking a journey on boats, trains and buses through parts of China's Pearl River Delta.

  • Located in the southern part of China, it's home to cities like Hong Kong and Macau,

  • and increasingly becoming connected thanks to new infrastructure.

  • First, there's this new bridge.

  • It's the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world.

  • Then there's a new high-speed train, which seamlessly connects Hong Kong to some of China's megacities.

  • It's all part of a new effort by the Chinese government to bring the region together

  • into a network known as The Greater Bay Area.

  • It hopes to eventually rival the likes of economic hubs like the New York, Tokyo and San Francisco Bay areas.

  • What does this mean for businesses like this amusement park?

  • I'm traveling from Hong Kong, to Macau to Zhuhai

  • meeting people hoping to profit from the Greater Bay Area.

  • This is China's Greater Bay Area.

  • Centered around the coast of Southern China, it's home to 11 cities and more than 65 million people.

  • That's more than Canada and Australia's populations combined.

  • The combined GDP of the Greater Bay area is $1.5 trillion, similar to the economy of South Korea.

  • Which makes sense if you consider the area is already home to some of China's biggest tech companies,

  • like Huawei, Tencent and drone-maker DJI.

  • As well as one of the world's most powerful financial centers, Hong Kong.

  • This is the Hong Kong side of what's now the longest sea-crossing bridge in the world.

  • The idea's been in the works for some 30 years, but now it's finally set to open.

  • The appropriately named Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is a whopping 34 miles long.

  • And because it's such a lengthy journey, calling it a bridge doesn't fully do it justice.

  • It's actually a bridge-tunnel system, which includes an undersea tunnel

  • and three artificial islands along the way.

  • It has cost an estimated $17 billion to build.

  • You can actually see the airport behind me. It's pretty much at the base of the bridge.

  • The bridge originates just near the Hong Kong International Airport and continues

  • all the way to Macau, the former Portuguese colony that made its name as the Las Vegas of Asia.

  • After reaching Macau, the bridge continues on to a city called Zhuhai,

  • one of China's very first Special Economic Zones,

  • it's a city with business and tax incentives to attract foreign investors.

  • In Hong Kong and Macau, cars drive on the left side of the road,

  • but in Mainland China, you drive on the right side.

  • At the base of the Hong Kong side, the lanes swap, so the bridge follows the same style as Mainland China.

  • That's not the only difference between Hong Kong and Macau, and Mainland China.

  • While the two are technically a part of China, they're what's called Special Administrative Regions.

  • That means they operate under their own sets of rules and economic freedoms.

  • Some critics have actually linked the bridge to sort of an umbilical cord, between Hong Kong and China

  • saying that by building this bridge, it's sort of a symbolic way

  • of China increasingly having influence over Hong Kong.

  • Opponents fear further integration means they'll lose some of that independence,

  • while others worry Hong Kong will lose business to Mainland China as it becomes more accessible.

  • Hong Kong's share of the Chinese economy has fallen from 27% in the 1990s to three percent now.

  • Most people I speak to in Hong Kong say

  • they want to play a big part in this new region and China's economy overall.

  • This is Eric. He's the co-founder of travel tech startup, Klook.

  • Say you're visiting a city and want to find something cool to do.

  • Well, his app matches you to things like a walking tour or boat ride.

  • It might not sound like a groundbreaking tech concept here.

  • But in just a few years, he's grown his company across Asia and has raised $300 million in funding.

  • He'll be using his latest round to expand in Europe and the U.S.

  • Since Eric's company provides travel experiences, he thinks the new bridge will create new ones.

  • Like a service that will bring people from Hong Kong to Macau by bus,

  • instead of having to take a ferry, or helicopter ride if that's in your budget.

  • When they come to Hong Kong, they would like to go to Macau, but then some of them say,

  • "Oh, I don't want to get on the boat," they might get seasick and so forth.

  • Now the bridge will be very convenient for them.

  • But Eric's not just enthusiastic about the bridge. He thinks the new train will help his operations, too.

  • The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, or 'Vibrant Express,'

  • does what its name suggests, linking Hong Kong to Southern China's major cities by a high-speed train.

  • Some of his employees commute every day from Shenzhen,

  • a booming city just across the border, to his offices in Hong Kong.

  • Previously, the commute took one hour by bus. But now it will take them about 15 minutes by train.

  • Hong Kong was a lot more business, more professional, right.

  • But then Shenzhen was uniquely positioned for technology, for manufacturing,

  • so there is a unique combination of synergy, of culture and talents.

  • And does that excite you?

  • Absolutely, because for example, our business, we are based in Hong Kong,

  • but we actually have a major R&D innovation hub in Shenzhen,

  • so we leverage that power of China innovation as well as with Hong Kong as the window to the world.

  • Eric doesn't seem to be concerned by the politics of it all.

  • There's some critics, who will say politically Hong Kong is supposed to be independent,

  • is there a lot of concern around that?

  • I think you hear some voices, but we should look at Asia as a whole, how do we become more interconnected,

  • just like how Europe becomes one more interconnected region, so Hong Kong will be part of that.

  • Before I leave Hong Kong, I want to see what makes it

  • one of the world's most popular international destinations.

  • More than seven million people live in Hong Kong

  • and because it's spread out over a peninsula and a few inhabitable islands

  • it's considered one of the most densely-populated places on earth.

  • But in order to understand what makes this city iconic, you have to see it at night.

  • Hong Kong is quite an international and dynamic city.

  • In fact, any cuisine you can think of, chances are they have a restaurant for it here in Hong Kong.

  • And there's so many restaurants, it's such an important part of the culture here

  • that it's said that for every 600 residents here in Hong Kong, there's a restaurant.

  • That's a restaurant per capita ratio that rivals most cities in the world.

  • This area is known as Soho, it's one of the city's hotspots.

  • Could I try the pork and the truffle?

  • A signature truffle?

  • Yeah.

  • Each of the three areas that the bridge connects have different currencies.

  • So Macau has a different currency than Hong Kong, which has a different currency than the mainland.

  • Hong Kong uses the Hong Kong dollar.

  • Macau has the pataca and China has the yuan.

  • That's an issue, and could be a barrier to creating a truly interconnected region.

  • In order for it to actually work, people need to move away from cash and pay digitally.

  • Which shouldn't be too difficult in mainland China, where many people pay using their phones.

  • These soup dumplings aren't the easiest thing to eat. But they're so worth it.

  • I end my night on an old Chinese sailing ship, more commonly known around here, as a Junk.

  • This is Victoria Harbour behind me, which separates the two main parts of Hong Kong,

  • and the view behind me is one of the most iconic here.

  • The next day it's time to leave Hong Kong for Macau.

  • This has been the most popular way to get from Hong Kong to Macau.

  • It's about a one-hour ferry ride and costs around $25.

  • If you look out the window, you can actually see the new bridge.

  • It's along the same route as the ferry, and the ferry business could lose out on customers

  • now that a bridge will offer a cheaper and faster option.

  • The thing about Macau is that it's sort of China's answer to Las Vegas,

  • you even have a lot of the same casino resorts, right here.

  • You have the Sands over here, you have the Venetian behind me

  • which is actually twice as big as the Venetian in Vegas, you even have a replica of the Eiffel Tower,

  • which is something you would see on the Las Vegas Strip as well.

  • Here you have what's known as the Cotai Strip, the name was even coined by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation.

  • Home to more than 600,000 people, Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legal.

  • Its gaming revenue is a whopping five times higher than Las Vegas'.

  • But the glitz of this area is only part of why visitors come to Macau.

  • If you walk a few minutes from the Cotai strip, you'll find this area.

  • It's known as Taipa Village, and there's quite a contrast between the glamour of the casino resorts there,

  • versus the more historic, tranquil side of Macau here.

  • I meet Pamela, a veteran in the tourism and hospitality world, now working at Taipa Village.

  • The area is hundreds of years old, preserved by the government,

  • and it brings together Western and Eastern culture.

  • Visitors primarily come from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland as well.

  • This looks popular. I think we need to try this.

  • We have to cue.

  • Every day they are selling like 9,000 egg tarts per day.

  • Can we have two?

  • Oh, it's hot!

  • Yeah.

  • So this is the famous egg tart here in Macau. What makes this famous?

  • It was founded by an English pharmacist who tried to modify the recipe

  • and add more Portuguese elements into the egg tart.

  • And is it one of your favorites as well?

  • Yeah, it's one of my favorites.

  • I guess I should try it.

  • That's delicious.

  • There's going to be a new bridge that connects Hong Kong with Macau,

  • how might something like that impact tourism here?

  • I think it will probably have an impact because a lot of Hong Kong people,

  • they can start to travel from Hong Kong International Airport to Macau.

  • The egg tarts were nice but wanted to end my day in Macau on an even higher note.

  • If you look over to the left, just a little bit you'll see the bridge that connects Macau to Zhuhai.

  • It's much smaller because Zhuhai is just right over the water.

  • It may be called the Sky Walk, but it's definitely not the place to come if you're looking for a leisurely stroll.

  • This is where tourists come to bungee jump or walk the perimeter of the Macau Tower,

  • and even though you're wearing a safety vest and a safety harness,

  • the feeling of it all oscillates between an adrenaline high and just downright terrifying.

  • The views up here help me better understand the area.

  • In the distance, I can see where the bridge gets in to Macau and from there it goes up to Zhuhai.

  • That's where I'm headed next.

  • My last stop is Zhuhai. The city of 1.6 million people shares a border with Macau

  • and is known for its islands, golf resorts, and duty-free shopping.

  • Not a bad way to roll up to a theme park.

  • I'm here to visit a theme park you've probably never heard of, but it's growing rapidly.

  • It's called Chimelong Ocean Kingdom and even though it opened just four years ago,

  • it gets nearly 10 million visitors a year.

  • That makes it the 11th most popular amusement park in the world

  • and the top park without the Disney or Universal name attached to it.

  • It's quite a hot day so many visitors are taking comfort here in the penguin exhibit.

  • Four years of Ocean Kingdom opening, we basically did nonstop building.

  • When you see the park is like that, we have actually cornered off an entire section to do the second phase,

  • and then we do an upgrade. So basically every year we have new attractions and new entertainment.

  • That's Paul. He opened the park in 2014 and tells me he hasn't stopped building since.

  • Right now, about 90% of his visitors are from other parts of Mainland China.

  • He's hoping to double their visitors in just three years,

  • and he thinks the new bridge will help him bring in a new, international audience.

  • Spending a day in the park, I don't think I saw one non-Chinese person,

  • so how do you adapt the staff for that? I mean, it seems like a lot of them know

  • some pretty basic English at least, is there any training that's involved with that?

  • We are working on that part actually. For this park when we design, we already consider foreign guests.

  • So, if you can hear all the announcements we have in the park, all the signage, all the brochures and the website,

  • we have Chinese and English available right now, but you're right about that,

  • for staffing we still need to work out something.

  • The park is full of your classic amusements,

  • everything from riding a roller coaster to exploring its massive aquarium.

  • The park's success comes at a time when marine parks are rising in popularity throughout China,

  • yet live animal shows are being canceled throughout the U.S. and Europe due to opposition.

  • I end my night with an action-packed night show

  • that includes a drone show, fireworks, and even people on jetpacks.

  • And if you're feeling exhausted and need some shut-eye at the end of the day,

  • the park offers this experience of sleeping under the sea, next to its aquarium.

  • It's quite a popular experience, in fact, it sells out most nights,

  • but it's not a bad problem to have for a company that's seen such rapid growth in just a couple of years

  • and to keep up with demand, it's planning to expand the theme park next year.

  • It's time to return to Hong Kong. But first I have to go through two checkpoints.

  • One when I leave Mainland China and another when I enter Hong Kong.

  • Government officials are hoping to streamline that process

  • with the final piece of the Greater Bay puzzle, the Vibrant Express.

  • There's Chinese officials in Hong Kong to operate a joint checkpoint.

  • Convenient sure, but critics say it violates Hong Kong's autonomy.

  • I want to see it for myself.

  • I wake up at 3:30 in the morning, so I can witness the buzz around this new station

  • and catch a glimpse of one of the train's very first passengers.

  • You have an entirely brand new train station here. You have a brand new ticket counter, brand new terminals,

  • brand new turnstiles. Every store is completely new, from a Godiva store, to a Sunglass Hut.

  • Everything is new, in fact it smells like a brand new building.

  • After seven years of construction, the project has ended up costing nearly $11 billion,

  • $2.5 billion more than the original projected cost.

  • But the project's advocates point to the economic benefits.

  • First day on the job!

  • Yeah, hello, welcome.

  • They say his job, and approximately 11,000 others, have been generated by the railway project.

  • And the government estimates the train will have 95,000 daily riders by 2021.

  • This is one of the first passengers to ever use the station and his shirt says,

  • Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

  • Expectations are high.

  • From business hubs like Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, to tourism hubs like Macau and Zhuhai.

  • And with one major consulting firm tipping the Greater Bay Area to become

  • the world's biggest bay economy, these ambitions may soon be met.

Three, two, one!

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B1 中級

グレーターベイエリア。香港、マカオ、中国本土の架け橋になる|CNBCレポート (The Greater Bay Area: Bridging Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China | CNBC Reports)

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    PENG に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日