The Central Region is an integral part of the overall regional development strategy of the Mainland. In September 2009, the State Council promulgated the "Plan to Promote the Rise of the Central Region", which sets out the overall planning targets. The National 12th Five-Year Plan promulgated in March 2011 further highlighted the strategic functions and positioning of the Central Region in the overall development plan as a link between the Eastern Region and the Western Region, as a base for transfer of capital and investment from the Eastern Region and the international market, and as a platform for spearheading the national policy of development city clusters and modern industries. The National 13th Five-Year Plan promulgated in March 2016 supports the Central Region to accelerate the development of modern transport and logistical systems linking the Northern Region and the Southern Region as well as the Eastern Region and the Western Region, to promote the development of city clusters and growth pole of metropolitan areas along the Yangtze River, and to develop an inland open economy.
To facilitate Hong Kong residents and enterprises to better grasp the business opportunities arising from the development in the Central Region, the Chief Executive announced in the 2013 Policy Address the plan to set up a new ETO in Wuhan. WHETO commenced operation on 1 April 2014. It is the fifth office of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSARG) in the Mainland. The HKSARG subsequently set up the Hunan Liaison Unit (HNLU) and Henan Liaison Unit (HALU) under WHETO in Changsha and Zhengzhou in May and September 2016 respectively with a view to strengthening and deepening the liaison and co-operation with Hunan and Henan provinces. WHETO established the Immigration Division in November 2017 to provide emergency support to Hong Kong residents in the five provinces of the Central Region (Hubei, Hunan, Shanxi, Jiangxi and Henan) covered area as well as passport replacement services.