A $20-billion bridge connecting Hong Kong and Macau to the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai is set to finally open this week, marking the completion of the longest sea-crossing bridge ever built, nine years after construction began. Supporters say the bridge will massively reduce the time it takes to travel between the three places, reducing journey times from three hours to 30 minutes.
The much anticipated Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge will open to traffic on Wednesday 9am local time.
Supporters of the bridge promote it as an engineering marvel, while others see it as a costly political project created to further integrate Hong Kong into the mainland at a time when Beijing is tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city.
The sea bridge is the latest to link Hong Kong directly to the mainland. Instead, a majority of traffic will come from shuttle buses or "special hire cars".
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In 2016, Hong Kong saw 56.7 million tourist arrivals, compared to 37.6 million for the United Kingdom, a much larger country. Others say the bridge is another way for Beijing to bind the autonomous administrative regions closer to China. "But this bridge is very visible ... you can see it from the plane when you fly in to Hong Kong, and it's breathtaking", lawmaker Claudia Mo told CNN earlier in the year. "You see it, and you know you're linked up to the motherland". This figure also includes an underground tunnel which is approximately 4.1 miles (6.7 km) long and allows ships to easily pass over the roadway.
Online commenters in Hong Kong complained about the bridge's restricted access ahead of the launch. The tunnel runs between two artificial islands, each measuring 100,000 square meters.
While there seems to be genuine excitement about the bridge from shipping and transportation companies, people in Hong Kong have mixed feelings about it.
Billionaire Chinese exile Guo Wengui (郭文貴) suggested the death of China's top liaison official in Macau, Zheng Xiaosong (鄭曉松) was not a suicide, as official Chinese reports suggest, but that he was murdered.