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Leaders hail opening of Bay Area bridge

By Kathy Zhang in Zhuhai, Guangdong | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-24 07:14
Aerial view of the Zhuhai section of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, in September. The bridge is a dual three-lane expressway connecting the three cities. [Photo by Li Jianshu/for China Daily]

Project's completion means greatly reduced travel time between neighbors

Top officials from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and Guangdong province said Tuesday's opening of the mega bridge linking the three places marked a new era of connectivity and coordinated development.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, chief executive of the Hong Kong SAR; Fernando Chui Sai-on, chief executive of the Macao SAR; and Li Xi, Party secretary of Guangdong province, were among more than 800 people who attended the opening ceremony for the bridge, held in Zhuhai, Guangdong.

They said the bridge is an achievement that opens a new chapter for Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao and will consolidate their strengths and make new contributions to the nation's development. They vowed to strengthen cooperation under the framework of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Hong Kong's Lam said the bridge creates new vitality for the city's development. Its commissioning will expand the city's role from that of a "connector" to a more active "participant" in the country's overall development, she said.

Lam mentioned another important transport link connecting Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland by high-speed railway, which began operating on Sept 23. A new boundary control point between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, Guangdong province, will enter service early next year.

With better infrastructure links with the mainland and Macao, Hong Kong will be placed more advantageously to explore mutually beneficial development opportunities with other players in the Greater Bay Area, she said.

Lam said Hong Kong has also made long-term plans to develop Lantau Island-where the Hong Kong terminus of the bridge and the Hong Kong International Airport are located-into a double gateway linking the vibrant Greater Bay Area with the rest of the world.

She said the bridge will also add to the appeal of Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area, as people in the region will find the "one-hour living circle" within reach, while businesses will receive a boost with greater ease in the flow of goods, information, capital and talent.

Li, Guangdong's top official, said the opening marked a milestone for Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao cooperation in a new era.

The opening of the bridge is the realization of the shared aspirations of people in the three places, he said, and the result of innovative collaboration in the region that boosts confidence with its high quality and various breakthroughs.

The bridge will significantly shorten travel time between the three cities. It will also bring people and communities closer, he said, adding that Guangdong will seize the opportunity to make full use of the transport infrastructure, to enhance collaboration with Hong Kong and Macao and strive to bring benefits to people by seeking coordinated development in the region.

Macao's Chui said the bridge enriches the practice of "one country, two systems". It is the first large-scale, cross-sea bridge project jointly carried out by Guangdong and the two SARs, having overcome numerous technical and policy challenges.

Thanks to the bridge, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao will be linked by road for the first time. It establishes a solid basis for greater integration, Chui said.

To ensure efficiency of immigration clearance for passengers, the Macao and Zhuhai ports will carry out joint inspections. Travelers only need to pass boundary controls once, to complete their departure and arrival procedures, Chui said.

The bridge will open to traffic early on Wednesday. Travel time between Zhuhai and Hong Kong International Airport will be shortened from four hours to just 45 minutes, and the time between Zhuhai and Hong Kong's container terminals will be cut from 3.5 hours to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

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