Study of Potential Impacts of Cross-Border Infrastructure on Urban and Tourism Development in Nepal under China‘s Belt and Road Initiative

Principal Investigator: Dr. Chan, Roger Chun Kwong

Funding: OBORobs, HKUrbanLabs, Faculty of Architecture, HKU


With the introduction of China’s One Belt and One Road Initiative (OBOR), more than 65 countries including Nepal are agreed to participate in the development initiatives with China. Government of Nepal has agreed and committed to develop its connectivity with China through the development of Cross-border infrastructure such as Road and Rail. It is assumed that increased connectivity will bring dynamism in urban, regional and national development whereby tourism is one of the major agents to boost national economy through enhanced infrastructure. Undoubtedly, improved connectivity would promote commercial activities, land transaction, tourism and local development; however it may also affect the local environment and heritage resources adversely if not planned in a proper way. In this regard, this research aims to explore potential impacts of development of cross-border infrastructure on urban and tourism development along the Nepal-China Friendship (Araniko) Highway. This study adopts case study as a research approach and employs multiple tools of data collection such as questionnaire survey with residents, tourism entrepreneurs; interview with key informants; and participant observation. Findings reveal that with appropriate planning of cross-border infrastructure, there exists numerous benefits of increased accessibility to urban and tourism development. Settlements along Nepal-China highway such as Dhulikhel, Banepa and Kathmandu seem to experience dynamism in terms of urban, tourism and community development. It suggests need of greater cooperation; collaboration; and innovative policies on transportation, land use and tourism development to maximize local benefits and promote sustainable development in the towns.


  • To explore the key planning issues and potential impacts of crossborder infrastructure on Urban and Tourism development in the towns of Dhulikhel and Banepa along the Nepal-China Highway under China’s One Belt One Road Initiatives.
  • To summarize key findings and provide implication of the study to promote sustainable tourism and urban development in Nepal.

Key Outcome:

  • This study identifies the relationship and impacts of cross-border infrastructure specifically Rail and Road on the urban and tourism development in the town of Dhulikhel and Banepa along Nepal-China Friendship Highway.
  • With increase in connectivity with China under OBOR initiative, towns along the Highway (Dhulikhel and Banepa) seem to exhibit dynamism in terms of land transaction, development of tourism services, housing and entrepreneurial activities.
  • Increase in mobility in urban core and in the major nodal points enables interactions with economic entities. It seems that spaces around stations, and peripheral areas would be most affected by the improvement in connectivity through Rail and Road. The areas along highway would also experience rapid transformation. The large scale infrastructure project will bring changes to land transaction, land prices and land use along the Highway.
  • As China is one of the major tourist market for Nepal, increase in accessibility through Rail and Road would attracts large number of tourists from China inducing numerous impacts on local economy, environment, cultural heritage and urban development.
  • Findings reveal that the potential benefits as induced by development of transportation linkage with China include increase in employment, income and local economic activities; better recognition of local arts, crafts, heritage and identity; and increase in local agricultural products. On the contrary, displacement of local industries and local products could also be seen in the urban areas if the proposed project fails to integrate policies of heritage conservation with transportation policies. Increase in tourism would also bring changes in the habits, attitudes, and perception of local people towards local culture and their heritage.
  • The government is the key stakeholder to propose, coordinate and implement the project and relevant policies. Bilateral relations and agreements are necessary to proceed the work. It seems that Central government should play proactive role to implement it, while local level agencies such as municipality should work together with local communities, NGOs and INGOs to prepare local development plan in relation to the OBOR initiatives. To facilitate better urban development vis-à-vis tourism and conservation, there has to be innovative policies on spatial planning and urban land use with specific emphasis on promotion of sustainable tourism and community development.

Development beyond growth poles: new districts in the Greater Pearl River Delta Region


Project Title:
Development beyond growth poles: new districts in the Greater Pearl River Delta Region

Project Team:
Principal Investigator – Dr. Chan, Roger Chun Kwong
Co-Investigator – Dr. Tang, Yuanzhou
Senior Research Assistant – Dr. Zhuojun Liu

Project Funded by:
General Research Fund of Hong Kong Research Grants Council (Project No. 17400514)


The 2009 “Outline Plan for the Reform and Development of the Pearl River Delta” sets the framework for the development of the Greater Pearl River Delta (GPRD) Region as a world-class base for advanced manufacturing and modern service industries. Inter-governmental cooperation agreements on key areas that include finance, industries, infrastructural and town planning, environmental protection as well as education and skill training have been reached between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao. Three new districts (Qianhai of Shenzhen, Nansha of Guangzhou and Hengqin of Zhuhai) were designated as vehicles for cooperation among the three governments.  The focus is on developing financial and producer services with a view to bringing about economic upgrading and industrial transformation across the GPRD Region.

The designation of the three new districts as strategic economic areas in the region bears resemblance to the classic Growth Pole Theory. In as much as the three districts are growth poles to achieve a spread effect on a regional level, the PRD is itself a growth pole at the national level under the national strategy that has, in the past 30 years, followed a pattern of selective development in the coastal regions. Instead of achieving an evenly spread effect and a balanced economic development, the country has, however, become economically polarized.

The research charts the planning and implementation process of the three districts, and evaluates their development and growth against the stated strategies and objectives. The project carries empirical and academic significance. Empirically, the first-hand data and information on the policy rationale, formation and development of the new districts generated in the research are useful resources for future studies and policy formulation for regional development. Academically, growth pole theory and its application will be examined in the light of the development experience of the three new districts. The deployment of a multi-scalar perspective is an analytical breakthrough in the study of development strategies in China.

Anticipated Outcomes and Outputs:

  • 1 Report
  • 3 Conference papers
  • 2 Symposiums



“The Planning and Development of New Growth Poles in the Greater Pearl River Delta Region”, Sub–Session of The 3rd Conference on China Urban Development International Conference on Urbanization and Urban Transformation in China, Shanghai, China (06.06.2015)

Conference Papers:

Conference Paper Title Conference Name
Shanghai, China
1. Three Decades of Spatial and Economic Transformation: From Growth Pole Theory to Free Trade Zones in the Greater Pearl River Delta Region

2. Implications of Guangdong’s New Urbanization Plan

The 3rd Conference on China Urban Development International Conference on Urbanization and Urban Transformation in China


Oxford, UK
China’s New State Space: Evidence from Qianhai, Shenzhen


Fourth Global Conference on Economic Geography
San Francisco, USA
1. Paper session: Free Trade Zones in China: Theory and Practice

2. Paper title: Spatial Organization and Governance of the Guangdong Pilot Free Trade Zone


Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting



Project Objectives:

To review the background leading to, and the relevant literature on, the formation of regional co-operation on building a quality living area from a multi-scalar perspective.

To systematically analyze and evaluate the establishment and development process of the new districts (Qianhai, Nansha and Hengqin), including a comparison of the respective strategic plans proposed by the new districts.

To critically evaluate the current regional development policies and their implementation, accompanied by a holistic discourse of urban and regional planning within the GPRD Region.

To provide recommendations for improving the mechanism and institutional establishment for attaining regional cooperation, spatial optimization for industrial restructuring, and for better urban and regional development planning.


Artificial Island | Source: Highways Department

Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and Cross-border Cooperation between Hong Kong and Zhuhai

Project Title: 
Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and Cross-border Cooperation between Hong Kong and Zhuhai

Project Team:
Principal Investigator – Dr. Chan, Roger Chun Kwong
Senior Research Assistant – Dr. Zhuojun Liu
Research Assistant – Miss Connie Chan

Project Funded by:
Zhuhai Housing & Urban-Rural Planning Bureau (珠海市住房和城鄉規劃建設局)


The recent “One Belt, One Road” economic (“The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road”) strategy exemplifies China’s goal to act a significant player in the world economy. The Pearl River Delta (PRD) region, being a major metropolitan area in the country, will surely have a part to play in this. The Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge (HZM Bridge) provides new impetus in the region’s bid to become the hub of “The 21st century Maritime Silk Road” through improving intra-regional transportation and in turn enhancing Hong Kong’s connectivity to the western PRD region.  Although Zhuhai has in the past been the leading city in the western part of the PRD, it does not currently appear to have in place plans and strategies to cope with impacts and challenges brought about by the HZM Bridge.  Based upon desktop research and interviews with different stakeholders, this study identifies the challenges to the cooperation between Zhuhai and Hong Kong and makes policy suggestions from Hong Kong’s perspective as well as development strategies for both Hong Kong and Zhuhai.

Anticipated Outcomes and Outputs:
1 final report, journal articles.

Objectives of Study:

To investigate the impact of the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge (HZM Bridge) on the inter-governmental cooperation between Hong Kong and Zhuhai

To investigate the impact of the HZM Bridge on the logistics industry of Hong Kong and the Greater Pearl River Delta

To investigate the impact of the HZM Bridge on the Hong Kong real estate developers and their investment strategy and decision in Zhuhai

To investigate the impact of the HZM Bridge on the innovation and technology industry of Hong Kong and the Greater Pearl River Delta

Research Methodology:

Archival research including statistical data analysis, review of published studies will carried out to inform the research framework. Fieldwork will be conducted in Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai. Visits will be made to relevant government agencies and organizations in Zhuhai, Hong Kong and Macao (such as public utilities companies, enterprises, research institutes), and meetings will be held with their representatives.  There will also be interviews of scholars in the related fields. The focus of these meetings and interviews are to gauge the organizations’ and interviewees’ views on the prospects and potential impacts of the HZM Bridge.