Beijing has been stepping up its efforts to integrate with Hong Kong, which split from communist China in 1949 following the Civil War. Some of the latest projects include an $18 billion mega-bridge and the launch of a bullet train connecting the city with the world’s largest high-speed rail service.

On Monday, Beijing revealed a blueprint for a metropolitan area that would integrate Hong Kong, Macao and nine cities in mainland China into a huge economic powerhouse.

The project, named “Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area”, is set to cover an area of 56,000 square km with a total population of roughly 70 million, more than that of the United Kingdom, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.

“As one of the most open and economically vibrant regions in China, the Greater Bay Area plays a significant strategic role in the overall development of the country,” reads the road map.

It calls on the 11 cities to step up their cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative, innovations and technology as well as boost infrastructural connectivity and ecological conservation.

By 2035, the Bay Area is expected to become an innovation-driven driven cluster formed around the four core cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, in addition to Hong Kong, the world’s biggest offshore Yuan centre, and Macao, the formerly Portuguese-run port city best known as a local gambling haven.

These plans have triggered concerns among lawmakers in Hong Kong, which has enjoyed a high degree of autonomy from Beijing.

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