Xi Jinping launches Hong Kong-mainland mega bridge

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Frank Chan, Hong Kong's Secretary for Transport and Housing, has said that travelling time between Zhuhai and Hong Kong International Airport will be shortened from four hours to about 45 minutes.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to attend an opening ceremony today in Zhuhai.

Stretching more than 55km (34 miles), the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge spans the Pearl River Delta and is an unparalleled engineering feat.

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.

If you're not a total wuss when it comes to the heady combo of deep sea, heights and creaking piers, maybe this new bridge might be one you can tackle - as it's the longest sea-crossing one in the world.

This is the longest sea-bridge ever built and costs $20 billion.

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It is the second major infrastructure project tying Hong Kong to mainland China to launch in a matter of weeks, after the opening of a high-speed rail link last month, and is part of a Beijing-driven strategy to create a sprawling "Greater Bay Area" economic hub.

"Part of the bridge crosses two of Guangzhou Port's shipping lanes", said Li Jiang, a HKZM Bridge Authority project manager, according to Xinhua. A handful of citizens will be allowed to drive on the bridge, but they'll need a special permit in order to do so.

Zheng was director of China's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, and was a member of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) top-level Central Committee.

China's Xinhua news agency says the area is "home to more people than the entire United Kingdom, has three of the biggest container ports in the world, and a larger GDP than Australia".

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. Officials also pledged to be careful to protect Chinese white dolphins that live in the delta.

The Hong Kong government has had to cough up HK$120 billion (S$21 billion) for it so far. Seven workers died in constructing the bridge, and another 275 were injured.

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