New Bridge a Boon for Tourists
Work has finally been completed on the 34-mile long bridge linking Hong Kong and nearby Macau with mainland China. The bridge, costing roughly $20 billion, took nine years to build, and is now the world’s 6th-longest bridge, and the longest bridge that crosses the sea. It will also contain about 400,000 tons of steel, nearly 5 times the amount that makes up the Golden gate Bridge of San Francisco.
The bridge is set to open for public use on Wednesday October 23, a day after President Xi Jinping will appear at a ceremony marking the completion of construction with senior officials from Hong Kong and Macau. Multiple delays prevented the bridge from opening when it was originally planned in 2016.
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The bridge will mean commuters, including tourists, will be able to reduce the time it takes to move between Hong Kong and Macau-Zhuhai from 3 hours to just 30 minutes.
The bridge is part of China’s plan to more closely tie the region surrounding Hong Kong and Macau, a region of more than 20,000 square miles, several other major cities, and a combined population of nearly 70 million people, greater than the combined population of California and New York State.
The new bridge is expected to be very beneficial for tourists coming to Hong Kong which hosted nearly 60 million visitors in 2016.
Tying China Together
The bridge is an even more impressive undertaking given the disparity in customs, language, and law between mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau. Each region has its own legal system and currency. On top of that, different passports are required to travel between these areas, and Cantonese is predominantly spoken in Hong Kong rather than Mandarin, the standard language in the most of mainland China.
According to the Director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Steve Tsang, notes that the bridge is “about making Hong Kong an integral part of what is supposed to be a new dynamic economic and innovative engine of China.”
The bridge is part of an effort to help integrate all three regions to facilitate communication and trade.
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