中国已经认识到发展服务业的重要性，因此在十二五规划（12th Five-year Plan）中制定了要在2015年实现服务业在GDP中的比重从43%提高到47%的目标。这一目标的重要性包含了诸多因素，但至少可以创造新的就业机会，吸纳进城务工的农村劳动力，以及因出口困难而导致失业的人员，特别是那些底端的、劳动密集型行业的失业人员。
所以，在内地的需求和香港的供给之间，历史再一次出现了自然的巧合。正如泛珠三角商业委员会（Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council）的领导在2010年9月题为《香港在国家经济发展中的地位和作用》（Hong Kong’s Roles and Positioning in the Economic Development of the Nation）中首次提到的，如果一切顺利，香港将揭开经济发展和转型的新篇章。
What Next for Hong Kong?
By the mid-1970s, Hong Kong was at a crossroads. Her light industrial manufacturing capabilities — textiles, garments, toys, housewares, electronics, plastics, etc. — had grown very quickly from a near-zero base since the 1950s; but ferocious new competition was gaining momentum among the other 3 members of the so-called Asian Tigers: South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.
By the end of the decade, along came China’s Open Door and Reform. Policy, and Hong Kong was off to the races, capitalizing on its strong geographical, infrastructure, financial and cultural advantages to become a major catalyst in China’s modernization, first in light manufacturing and eventually in a host of other fields.
That stage of history is well-known now, and it was clearly a win-win-win situation: good for China, good for Hong Kong and good for international businesses who could rely on Hong Kong as a bridge into and out of China. For the first 30 years of the reform. and opening era, Hong Kong was the largest source of foreign direct investment in China.
In the intervening years, Hong Kong’s manufacturing jobs have migrated into the Chinese mainland, first to the Pearl River Delta and eventually to many diverse areas further inland. The Pearl River Delta region, including Hong Kong and Macau, emerged as the first of China’s three economic engines; along with the Yangzi River Delta region, including Shanghai; and the Bohai region, including Tianjin.
As of today, 93% of Hong Kong’s GDP depends on the service sector, which is one of the highest ratios of any economy in the world; and solid proof of the enormous transformation of Hong Kong in the short span of 30 years from a light manufacturing base into a global center of finance, trading, shipping, and logistics.
By contrast, the service sector’s share of China’s economy is 43%, which is relatively low, even among developing countries.
Acknowledging the importance of growing the service sector, China’s 12th Five-year Plan calls for service’s share of GDP to grow from 43% to 47% by 2015. This is important for many reasons, not least of which is job creation, including the absorption of migrants from rural to urban areas, and those who may have their jobs displaced by challenges to China’s export sector, particularly at the lower, more labor-intensive end of the spectrum.
Creating a more vibrant service sector is a strategic priority at this stage in the development of China’s economy. Even though China is vastly more advanced and developed economically than it was in the early 1980s, Hong Kong once again has an important supporting role to play in this next phase, as a catalyst and partner in growing the mainland’s service sector.
By definition, growing any country’s service sector is more complex than growing the manufacturing sector. Services tend to be more highly regulated and require staffing by people with higher levels of training and experience, as well as the support of more advanced legal infrastructure, including effective enforcement and judicial recourse.
Hong Kong has a strong tradition and ample resources in these areas, a fact which has attracted many mainland companies to set up shop there, in support of international as well as domestic business development initiatives.
So there is again a historic and natural symbiotic fit between what China needs and what Hong Kong has to offer. If all goes well, this will herald the start of an exciting new chapter in Hong Kong’s economic growth and adaptation, as leaders of the influential Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council first pointed out in their excellent September, 2010 Recommendation Report entitled “Hong Kong’s Roles and Positioning in the Economic Development of the Nation”.
It is historic in and of itself that the 12th Five-Year Plan incorporates — for the first time — the Hong Kong as well as Macau S.A.R.s
Just as the dramatic success of the first 30 years of China’s Reform. and Opening era required bold vision and leadership, the next chapter will as well. In some respects the challenges are more complex, yet the rewards will be equally dramatic.
To take but one example, inefficiencies in domestic distribution and supply chain within China are so great that the retail cost to the consumer in China of a given locally made product must be at least 20% higher than the price to the consumer price in most overseas markets, just to cover the higher domestic distribution costs (even as compared with overseas distribution costs).
In other words, improving the efficiency of distribution systems, logistics, and supply chains will not only benefit producers and distributors of products in China, but Chinese consumers as well.
It’s clear that the smartest players in the Hong Kong business community have already learned from the dramatically different road map which is contained in the 12th 5-Year Plan, and placed their bets on the development of the service sector as the next great opportunity for them in China.
Just as Deng Xiaoping’s economic reform. plan incorporated the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) concept, beginning with the Shenzhen SEZ, some well-informed observers predict that the next thing to watch for will be a new era of “SEZs within SEZs”. In other words, places in the Pearl River Delta like Qinhai, Nansha, and Hengqian where new experimental reforms will be launched as a precursor to rolling them out more widely in the domestic market.
Watch this space…