Macau/Political Influence on Planning of Hengqin Project

Although Hengqin and Macau are both under Chinese Sovereignty, the cooperation between Hengqin and Macau for now could still be defined as a cross-boundary relationship. Political influence from Beijing on Hengqin will undoubtedly be much more enormous than on Macau. In the process of Hengqin’s development, mainland governors, rather than architects or urbanists as usual, would be considered as a protagonist.

“In the 1980s, Shenzhen was an economic experiment. Now, this is a governance experiment.” said Fu Hualing, a constitutional scholar at the University of Hong Kong and an expert on Chinese cross-border legal relations[1].

It is somehow rational to describe Hengqin as a “governance experiment”. Unlike other cities, the urbanism of Hengqin is mainly under control of governors. Even though Hengqin would likely be integrated into Macau at some points[2], all Hengqin has are well-planned skyscrapers, industrial areas and recreational projects[3](Fig.1), without the unique urban characteristics in Macau. Also, Lack of land is one of the reasons that stop the diversification of Macau’s ­industry. As long as the space of Macau is insufficient, Hengqin is “willing to provide land and resources”, said Niu Jing, the director-general of the Hengqin New Area Administrative Committee[4]. So Hengqin could be described as an experimental city growing from policies rather than people’s living requirement, aiming to better help Macau develop. And under Beijing’s policies, the quick urbanism of Hengqin is integrated with its modernism and Macau’s development, which means Hengqin would probably jump from a scarcely inhabited village to part of “modern Macau” in future.

[5] Initial blueprint of Hengqin project, with details of planned areas


[1]Joyce Lau and Calvin Yang, “University of Macau Moves Over the China Border,” New York Times, July 14, 2018.

[2]Niall Fraser, “Beijing Frees up More Land for Macau Development Projects,” South China Morning Post, November 25, 2016.

[3]Oval Partnership, “Hengqin Island Concept Master Planning,” Accessed December 16, 2018.

[4]Fraser, “Beijing.”

[5]“Cross-boundary Cooperative Development Plans,” in Planning Study on The Co-ordinated Development of The Greater Pearl River Delta Townships, ed. Guangdong Urban & Rural Planning and Design Institute (Guangdong, 2009), 125.

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