Just as the Chinese saying goes - the wisdom of the masses exceeds that of the wisest individual, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, three of China's most economically active regions, are putting their heads together in an effort to reinvigorate their vibrant economies.
The three southern areas are all in the throes of transforming their original growth models.
Guangdong province was where the first Special Economic Zone was established (in Shenzhen) in the 1978 reform and since then and the province as a whole has enjoyed a higher-than-average national economic growth rate. But it is gradually losing its glitter as the Chinese manufacturing hub has slowed down as factories squeezed for space and budgets relocate elsewhere.
Hong Kong, a free port, tourist center and leading transportation and financial hub is expecting an economic slowdown caused by port facility competition, the mainland stock boom as well by the ripple of the United States sub-prime mortgage crisis.
And Macao, another free port and Asia's third largest economy by GDP (gross domestic product) per capita, is contemplating shifting its bet from its current status as a opulent casino capital to new, less glitzy growth models.
The three areas have been economically linked especially since the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangements (CEPA) was launched in June and October of 2003.
But that is far from enough. A study led by the Guandong provincial government and local academic institutions on furthering economic cooperation between the three powerhouses is expected to be released in May.
The study is the largest of its kind by Guangdong and its result and proposals will be submitted to the State Council for approval.
The proposal will center on setting up a cooperative area among the three, similar to a free trade zone, to promote the exchange of staffs, logistics and funds.
Wang Yang, Party secretary of Guangdong province, is the project team leader. He has set an ambitious goal of building the new zone into an economic area resembling New York's Metropolitan circle.
Yang Daokuang, deputy director of the Social, Economic and Public Policy Research Center under Macao Polytechnic Institute says the concept has a lot of untapped potential.
"It is incomparable in China, covering an economy worth 4.8 trillion yuan ($685.71 billion) and with a world's leading manufacturing center, Guangdong, a world's leading financial center, Hong Kong and a world gambling center, Macao," Yang explains.
The idea of an industrial upgrade and growth model transformation in Guangdong was floated some years ago, but it emerged in the spotlight last year when Wang was transferred to Guangdong from his position as Party secretary of Chongqing municipality last November.
Wang emphasized that the export-driven province needs to find a new growth engine due to rising costs and the steady appreciation of the yuan.
Wang advocates a strengthened economic relationship for Guangdong with Hong Kong and Macao, instead of the long-advocated Pan-Pearl River Delta Region Economic Cooperation. He believes Guangdong could enhance its competitiveness by learning from Hong Kong and Macau in the areas of service, hi-tech and value-added manufacturing.
Early this year, Wang hosted and met teams led by Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, and Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hou-Wah, to discuss the issue.
For the two special administrative regions, time is pressing to instill something new to the economies.
Since China resumed exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and Macao in July of 1997 and 1999, both regions have seen economic growth.
(By Ding Qingfen)