Mainland-Hong Kong-Macao joint ventures strike gold in Greater Bay Area

It takes just 3 patacas (about 38 US cents) and half an hour for Macau resident and apprentice lawyer Cheung Sze-yuen to travel to work in Zhuhai.

It takes just 3 patacas (about 38 US cents) and half an hour for Macau resident and apprentice lawyer Cheung Sze-yuen to travel to work in Zhuhai, a city in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA).

His employer, ZLF Law Office, is the first joint venture law firm in the country comprised of law firms from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macau. It is situated in an innovation park in the Hengqin New Area.

Every workday, Cheung takes a bus from his home in Macau to the park, and walks to his office after passing clearance.

"The booming GBA is where I can learn and earn more," he said. Having passed the national bar exam, known for its extremely low pass rate, he hopes that he can put what he's learned into practice in the mainland.

ZLF has four lawyers registered in the mainland, 11 in Macau and 16 in Hong Kong. According to its website, the company is an innovation in legal services cooperation between the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau under the practice of "one country, two systems."

The company provides one-stop legal services not only for people in the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, but also caters to the diversified legal needs of those facing various legal systems in other countries and regions. The firm's turnover has continued to grow since its establishment more than four years ago.

More and more mainland enterprises are going global under the Belt and Road Initiative, according to Chen Yi, director and a senior partner of ZLF. Mainland lawyers know the laws of the mainland, while Hong Kong and Macau lawyers are more familiar with foreign laws and international rules, which highlights the advantages of ZLF.

"We are optimistic about the GBA market and have full confidence in the integration of Hong Kong and Macau into the development of the country," she said.

Just steps away from the law firm sits the country's first company jointly operated by construction professionals from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macau — Huazhong United Design and Consulting Co., Ltd.

Its director Yan Shu said that thanks to the integrated development of the GBA, they have successfully implemented Macau and Hong Kong engineering models in the mainland, opening doors to the vast market for construction engineering professionals from the two special administrative regions.

In September 2019, Zhuhai passed the country's first local regulation allowing professional enterprises and professionals in the field of construction engineering from Hong Kong and Macau to provide direct services.

Yan was one of the main drafters of the regulation and its chief consultant. "The introduction of this regulation has attracted great attention from the engineering industry in the GBA, especially in Hong Kong and Macau. Within a year, more than 100 professionals and dozens of professional enterprises from Hong Kong and Macau have registered and practiced in Hengqin."

Subsequently, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan and other GBA cities have introduced similar regulations, and more and more Hong Kong and Macau professionals have come to the mainland to provide services and explore the markets.

"The industrial structure of Macau is relatively simple. Thus the recognition of qualifications, enabled by those regulations, allows a broader development space for young people in Macau," said Wu Chou-kit, chairman of the Macau Institute of Engineers and a director of Huazhong.

"I believe that starting from the construction industry, more young people will come to the GBA for development. This is an opportunity to promote Macau's industrial diversification, and it also gives Macau's young people a brighter future," he said.

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