Published: Fri, October 26, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

China's president inaugurates world's longest bridge connecting Hong Kong with mainland

China's president inaugurates world's longest bridge connecting Hong Kong with mainland

The engineering achievement, which is 55 kilometres long, opens amid questions about whether it is even needed and suspicions the project had a political motive to bring Macau and Hong Kong closer to mainland China.

Though supporters of the bridge promote it as an engineering marvel that will boost business and cut travel time, but critics termed it as a "white elephant" and said it is one more way to integrate Hong Kong into China as fears grow that the city's cherished freedoms are being eroded, according to a media report.

Earlier, lawmakers in Hong Kong warned that the bridge, which provides a direct link to Hong Kong worldwide Airport, could bring extra traffic to Lantau Island, and cause congestion, South China Morning Post said in a report. He did not address the audience.

The bridge's opening also comes a month after the inauguration of a new high-speed rail link from Hong Kong to mainland China that runs along a different, shorter route.

The bridge would help Hong Kong and Macau be integrated to mainland China, he added.

Most drivers will have to park at the Hong Kong port, switching to a shuttle bus or special hire cars once they are through immigration.

Hong Kong residents will only be granted a licence to cross into Zhuhai by auto if they meet highly selective criteria, including holding certain mainland government positions or making major contributions to charities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.

Online commenters in Hong Kong complained about the bridge's restricted access ahead of the launch.

The bridge forms a physical link between the mainland and Hong Kong, an Asian financial hub that was handed over from British to Chinese control in 1997 with the assurance it would maintain its own legal and economic system for 50 years. "We're now one family". China is hopeful the opening will bind the regions together giving way to better future economic growth.

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