China ready for launch of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge

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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)

Hong Kong, Oct. 23-The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HKZMB, 港珠澳大橋) is to be officially open to traffic at 9 a.m. on Oct. 24. The opening ceremony is held in Zhuhai on Oct 23.

Chinese President Xi Jinping declares Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge open. Ceremony with about 700 guests took place at immigration clearance facilities on an artificial island.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, prepares to leave 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)

The 55-kilometer-long bridge, situated in the Lingdingyang (伶仃洋) waters of the Pearl River Estuary, will be the world’s longest sea bridge. It’s also the most expensive bridge crossing the sea and cost US$17 billion; construction began on December 15, 2009.

Lauded as the world’s longest sea-based project, the bridge was described by The Guardian as one of the “seven wonders in the modern world,” is set to open for vehicles Wednesday.

It will slash the travel time between Hong Kong and Zhuhai from three hours to just 30 minutes, further integrating the cities in the Pearl River Delta.

A security officer stands guard at the main entrance of the immigration building for the China-Zhuhai-Macau-Hong Kong Bridge ahead of the opening ceremony 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)

The HKZMB is one of the key elements of the Great Bay Area (GBA, 粵港澳大灣區), together with the high-speed train linking Hong Kong with Guangzhou that opened on September 23.

The GBA is one of China’s national economic strategies for the next 20 years. It includes Macao, Hong Kong and the nine largest cities of Guangdong province – Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing, Huizhou, Dongguan and Zhongshan.

Some analysts believe that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is another way for Beijing to bind the autonomous administrative regions closer to China.