Saturday 17 November 2018

In Pictures: China opens world's longest sea bridge linking Hong Kong to mainland

In this Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, photo, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is lit up in Hong Kong. The bridge, the world's longest cross-sea project, which has a total length of 55 kilometers (34 miles), will have opening ceremony in Zhuhai on Oct. 23. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
In this Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, photo, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is lit up in Hong Kong. The bridge, the world's longest cross-sea project, which has a total length of 55 kilometers (34 miles), will have opening ceremony in Zhuhai on Oct. 23. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is lit up in Hong Kong, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. The bridge, the world's longest cross-sea project, which has a total length of 55 kilometers (34 miles), will have opening ceremony in Zhuhai on Oct. 23. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

China has opened the world's longest sea-crossing bridge linking Hong Kong to the mainland, a feat of engineering carrying immense economic and political significance.

Chinese president Xi Jinping presided over a ceremony in the city of Zhuhai to open the 34 mile-long (55km) bridge linking it to the semi-autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

An evening view of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and its entrances to a cross sea tunnel, off Lantau island in Hong Kong, China October 21, 2018, before its opening ceremony on October 23, 2018. Picture taken October 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
An evening view of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and its entrances to a cross sea tunnel, off Lantau island in Hong Kong, China October 21, 2018, before its opening ceremony on October 23, 2018. Picture taken October 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
In this Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, photo, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is lit up in Hong Kong. The bridge, the world's longest cross-sea project, which has a total length of 55 kilometers (34 miles), will have opening ceremony in Zhuhai on Oct. 23. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is lit up in Hong Kong, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. The bridge, the world's longest cross-sea project, which has a total length of 55 kilometers (34 miles), will have opening ceremony in Zhuhai on Oct. 23. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
A sunset view of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge off Lantau island in Hong Kong, China October 21, 2018, before its opening ceremony on October 23. Picture taken October 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
In this Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, photo, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is lit up in Hong Kong. The bridge, the world's longest cross-sea project, which has a total length of 55 kilometers (34 miles), will have opening ceremony in Zhuhai on Oct. 23. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Cable cars move in front of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge off Lantau island in Hong Kong, China October 21, 2018, before its opening ceremony on October 23, 2018. Picture taken October 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
An evening view of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge and its entrances to a cross sea tunnel, off Lantau island in Hong Kong, China October 21, 2018, before its opening ceremony on October 23, 2018. Picture taken October 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A sunset view of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge off Lantau island in Hong Kong, China October 21, 2018, before its opening ceremony on October 23, 2018. Picture taken October 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
A general view of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge after its opening ceremony in Zhuhai, China October 23, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song
Invited officials are silhouetted on a projector screen showing the construction of the China-Zhuhai-Macau-Hong Kong Bridge ahead of the opening ceremony at the immigration building in Zhuhai in south China's Guangdong province, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. The bridge, the world's longest cross-sea project, which has a total length of 55 kilometers (34 miles), will have opening ceremony in Zhuhai on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Chinese President Xi Jinping applauds on stage after official opening of the China-Zhuhai-Macau-Hong Kong Bridge, the world's longest cross-sea project, which has a total length of 55 kilometers (34 miles), in Zhuhai in south China's Guangdong province, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Digital fireworks exploded on a screen behind him as leaders of the three cities looked on.

The £15 billion bridge took almost a decade to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns.

A sunset view of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge off Lantau island in Hong Kong, China October 21, 2018, before its opening ceremony on October 23. Picture taken October 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
A sunset view of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge off Lantau island in Hong Kong, China October 21, 2018, before its opening ceremony on October 23. Picture taken October 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

It includes an undersea tunnel allowing ships to pass through the Pearl River delta, the heart of China's crucial manufacturing sector.

The bridge will cut travel time across the delta from several hours to just 30 minutes, something China hopes will bind the region together as a major driver of future economic growth.

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is lit up in Hong Kong, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. The bridge, the world's longest cross-sea project, which has a total length of 55 kilometers (34 miles), will have opening ceremony in Zhuhai on Oct. 23. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is lit up in Hong Kong, Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. The bridge, the world's longest cross-sea project, which has a total length of 55 kilometers (34 miles), will have opening ceremony in Zhuhai on Oct. 23. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Heavily regulated traffic using permits issued under a quota system will begin flowing on Wednesday.

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.

That carries major political significance for Mr Xi's administration, which has rejected calls for political liberalisation in Hong Kong, sparking fears Beijing will clamp down further on civil liberties before the end of the "one country, two systems" arrangement in 2047.

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.

Cable cars move in front of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge off Lantau island in Hong Kong, China October 21, 2018, before its opening ceremony on October 23, 2018. Picture taken October 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Cable cars move in front of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge off Lantau island in Hong Kong, China October 21, 2018, before its opening ceremony on October 23, 2018. Picture taken October 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

That line has vastly decreased travel times but also raised concerns about Beijing's growing influence because mainland Chinese law applies within part of the line's Hong Kong terminus.

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