China will not set a binding growth target in the development plan of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which will be released early this year, but will use a number of indexes to measure key fields such as innovation and trade, according to a former vice-minister of the nation's top economic regulator.

The bay area connecting Hong Kong, Macao and a number of cities in Guangdong province has been listed as one of the nation's top three regions of strategic importance to be built up this year, according to a document from the National Development and Reform Commission viewed by China Daily.

Unlike the other two - the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and the Yangtze River economic belt - the region, with current economic output surpassing that of the San Francisco Bay Area, is set to become a global leading center of technology innovation, finance and trade by the end of 2035, according to the commission.

The new region, based on the existing Pearl River Bay Area, is expected to play a more significant role in the global economy through integrating advantages in the region and improving the regulatory framework, according to Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, who consulted on the development plan for the area, which has not yet been publicly released.

A coordination committee is expected to be established to better solve challenges in the bay area, which encompasses two different political systems and three different currencies, said Zhang, a former vice-minister at the NDRC.

To achieve the goal set for 2035, the government will put particular focus on improving regional infrastructure, creating procedures to attract talent and introducing more policies to connect regional financial markets and promote internationalization of the yuan, Zhang said.

Efforts to promote the flow of talent, information and capital will be included in the plan, he added.

Existing ports will be assigned new tasks in order to better meet demand for domestic and foreign clients, according to Zeng Pan, deputy head of the development and construction office of the Guangzhou Mingzhu Bay Area.

"China now focuses less on planning for pursuing GDP targets. That is a major difference compared with past practice," he said.

The world's second-largest economy will shift from pursuing high-speed growth to high-quality growth, according to the statement released after the Central Economic Work Conference in December, which set the tone for the country's economic agenda for this year.

The development plan will include a number of specific indexes to measure development in some key fields mentioned in the goal, such as the ratio of research and development expenditures to the gross domestic product, according to Zhang.

"The plan is only a rough agenda for what needs to be done to turn the area into a leading global economic group," he said. "There is no specific timeline for any of those tasks."

The plan will only present requirements for some major infrastructure construction projects, but will not set specific targets for the total amount of investment, he added.

"Putting less emphasis on hitting growth targets gives local governments more room to improve the regulatory framework, reduce regional imbalances and help Hong Kong become more involved in mainland development," he said.