Question: What jaw-dropping feat of engineering is paving the way for Hong Kong’s reunification with China—29 years in advance?
Answer: Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge
Hong Kong’s status as a Chinese territory has finally come of age: it was 21 years ago that the British departed and the People’s Republic of China reclaimed control. Having been a liberal bastion with its own distinct culture, Hong Kong didn’t leap to embrace the socialist system of the mainland. Instead, the city’s constitution-like Basic Law provided a little reprieve with Article 5, which declared that Hong Kong would remain capitalist for 50 years.
While there’s still 29 years to go before China gets complete say over how Hong Kong operates, experts know that isn’t historically a long time to unite two very different systems, so preparations are already underway to smooth out the path. Many believe that Hong Kong will fall under the same laws as the rest of China and, instead of being singular, be enfolded into a Pearl River Delta megalopolis that includes Macau, Zhuhai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Zhongshan. (This is common: Beijing is also considered a megalopolis that includes nearby cities as well.)
The first sign of the expected future identity is a stunning bridge-and-tunnel network linking Hong Kong to Macau and Zhuhai by road instead of water. To span the entire Delta—a distance of 34 miles—the HKZMB (as it is known) links three cable bridges, a tunnel beneath the water, and three man-made islands. At a cost of $16 billion, it is an eye-popping achievement, the longest such linked route in Asia (and some argue the world). Completed in November 2017, it has undergone testing and evaluation to prove its structural integrity in advance of a July 2018 opening.
People aren’t waiting until the summer to celebrate this harbinger of the future. Hong Kong and mainland residents alike are already making pilgrimages to snap selfies with the HKZMB, which has become an instant icon. By the time the two populations are formally one, the bridge will already be a classic part of their shared culture.
7 More Superlatives of Hong Kong
- Longest Escalator: The Mid-Levels Escalator system, a French collaboration, is a gently sloping escalator that rises 440 feet over a half-mile distance, linking hundreds of restaurants and shops across three Hong Kong districts.
- Biggest pink diamond on record: The inch-thick Pink Star is a 59.6-carat oval diamond owned by Chow Tai Fook, the city’s most famous jeweler, and its currently valued at $553 million.
- Most skyscrapers on earth: With 3000 buildings identified as skyscrapers, including 60 over 600 feet, Hong Kong outpaces former record-holder New York and up-and-comer Dubai.
- Most expensive apartment in the world: The luxury My Nicholson apartment building sold a unit for $64 million dollars in 2017; at $15,000 per square foot, it was the world’s priciest single unit ever.
- Highest number of Michelin stars in China: The mainland can only envy Hong Kong, which is home to 74 Michelin-starred joints, including 11 with two stars and 8 with three.
- World’s biggest sound and light show: The nighttime Symphony of Lights is the biggest permanent spectacle on Earth, covering 47 buildings in Hong Kong and across the harbor in Kowloon.
- Biggest actual shoe: When Superga opened its new world flagship store in Hong Kong, they asked students of the Savannah College of Art & Design/Hong Kong to make them a shoe centerpiece. The kids made a real shoe with a rubber sole and a hand-painted canvas upper that depict Hong Kong scenes. The 20-foot-long wonder is now listed in the Guinness Book of World Records—as just one Hong Kong distinction.
Discover record-setting Hong Kong and catch a glimpse of its future when you join O.A.T.'s Imperial China, Tibet & the Yangtze River adventure.