The world’s longest sea crossing bridge has finally opened after years of delays – but no one seems to care.
Chinese President Xi Jinping cut the ribbon on the Hong Kong to Zhuhai Bridge and heralded a new era of trade and prosperity for the region.
But the people of Hong Kong don’t want the express connection to mainland China because they fear it will bring an influx of tourists to the already overcrowded city.
The city welcomes nearly 60 million tourists a year already.
The 55 kilometre bridge (34 miles) spans the Zhujiang/Pearl River estuary linking the self-governing province with the mainland city of Zhuhai and the autonomous city of Macau.
Costing $20 billion and running vastly over planned cost and opening three years late, the bridge cuts travel times between the cities from nearly four hours down to 30 minutes or so.
Besides funnelling tourists into Hong Kong, the bridge is also seen as a way for Beijing to exert more power over the two wayward cities of Hong Kong and Macau.
The link is not completely open.
Hong Kong drivers will need to show a permit to cross. This means parking cars on one side of the bridge, taking a bus to a waypoint and picking up another car to continue the journey.
The buses cost between $8 and $10 each way.
That’s the least of a driver’s problems – in Hong Kong and Macau, cars are left-hand drive, but in China, which lies between the two, they are right hand drive.
China wants the bridge to generate an economic powerhouse around the bay area between Macau and Hong Kong, where around 68 million people live.
The bridge also brings the two cities closer to China administratively and culturally.
The world’s five longest sea crossing bridges are all in China. The new bridge takes over the top spot from the Hangzhou Bay Bridge, linking Shanghai with Ningbo at 35.7 kilometres long.
Next longest is the 32.5 kilometre Donghai Bridge connecting Shanghai to the port of Yangshan.