World Business Report, China opens the world's longest sea bridge

Zheng Xiaosong secretary of the Fujian Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, speaks during a meeting in Fuzhou Fujian province China

The world's longest sea bridge Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will be thrown open for traffic on October 24, the authorities said on Saturday.

It will reduce travel time between Hong Kong and Zhuhai from four hours to just 45 minutes.

It consists of three cable-stayed bridges and one undersea tunnel, and is 14 miles longer than the most narrow width of the English Channel.

The construction of this bridge started in 2009 and has been marred by several delays.

However, the sprawling structure is now complete and is expected to be opened by Chinese President Xi Jinping on October 23.

Airline pilot Liu Gang said he'd been eagerly anticipating the opening of the bridge, calling it a symbol of the mainland's increasingly close ties with Hong Kong and Macau.

He said the bridge demonstrates China's engineering capabilities.

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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. Drivers will be able to park their vehicles at the Hong Kong port and get on a shuttle bus or special hire cars after going through the immigration.

China already lays claim to the record for the world's longest bridge of any kind - the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge, a viaduct which is part of a high-speed rail line.

He said it was the first time the three sides had worked together on a major infrastructure project. It also includes a 6.7-kilometer (4-mile) submerged tunnel to help it avoid the busy shipping paths over the Pearl River Delta.

The main section of the new bridge is also considered mainland territory, even though Hong Kong was slated to pay at least half the cost of the project, according to the original blueprint from the city's government.

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam had earlier spoken to thank Xi for attending in person, praising the bridge's "magnificence".

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.

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